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16th Talks On The Hill: The Common Denominator: Are There Universal Values For Interfaith Dialogue?

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
07 Nov 09 - 09 Nov 09 Asia-Europe Foundation Governance & Economy Department Talks on the Hill Intercommunal Dialogue

Barcelona (Spain)


With the global movement of people and information, multi-cultural societies across Asia and Europe are facing threats to social cohesion from the rise of exclusivist or even violent extremist ideologies. Of particular concern are those allegedly based on beliefs, faith, or ethnicity. This is the case even in the historically plural societies of Southeast Asia. In Europe, the trend of religious diversification is further complicated by a parallel process to disengage religion from the public realm, contributing to a growing divide between faith-based groups and other segments of society.

Since 2005, cultural and political leaders of the Asia-Europe Interfaith Dialogue have come together annually and made a consistent call, addressed to public and civil society actors alike, to identify the common values that are shared by different faiths and beliefs and to promote these values through educational co-operation. The existence of common ethical values that can be shared by all faiths and spiritual systems would appear to be a compelling response to the challenges of cultural difference that characterise our diverse societies today.

The 16th Talks on the Hill sought to distil lessons from the existing approaches to education initiatives and curricula that have the concept of common or shared values at their core, including cross-cultural, inter-religious, ethics, and moral education. The talks provided an opportunity for practitioners to network with their peers and to take stock of existing programmes, identify gaps in the field, and explore opportunities for collaborative action.

The talks took place prior to the 6th East-West Dialogue, which brought together a group of policymakers, distinguished scholars, and civil society leaders on the theme “Migration And Diversity: New Challenges And Opportunities.”


- Could a set of common values bind people from different cultures in a way that could resolve, or offer more enlightened ways of interpreting and reacting to, the problematic differences?

- What would this catalogue of values look like?

- How could it be produced, and how would it be accepted and propagated with due consideration to the widely differing cultural contexts within Asia and Europe?



  • Casa Asia
ASEF's contribution is with the financial support of the European Commission.