ACP2016


“Justice in Psychology”

March 31 – April 3, 2016 | Art Center Kobe, Kobe, Japan

Justice, in all its forms, is an integral part of the human condition. It is natural to think of it as culture-dependent or culture-bound, but research suggests that there is also an innate aspect, as even young babies seem to have a sense of fairness and a dislike for people exhibiting unfair behaviour. This not only raises the nature vs nurture debate, but also the possibility that our sense of justice may be a culturally construed transformation of a more basic urge to avenge, or revenge.

Justice or fairness impinges upon us at all levels of society, from the individual, to the small group, to the institutional, to global society at large. At the individual level, we can conceive of the rights to basic human needs and the imperative to meet these needs within families, schools, neighbourhoods and cities. Justice also keeps individuals in line, making them feel guilt and remorse for unjust acts done toward others and to society. At the interpersonal and group level, justice addresses the myriad of important social issues such as domestic violence, bullying and the various forms of prejudice and discrimination. At the larger institutional, national and global levels, a focus on justice faces the issues of international conflict, historical rationale for hostility, unjust practices and policies, and directs attention to the psychological causes, human cost, and possible solutions or prevention policies and practices. Justice undoubtedly plays an important role in our daily life, wherever we may be.

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Conference Report

ACP2016, located for the first time in the port city of Kobe, Japan, was held alongside The Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy (ACERP2016). The event brought together 232 delegates from 37 different countries to present their latest research and participate in interdisciplinary discussion.

The Keynote, Featured and Spotlight speakers gave high quality and interesting presentations around the conference theme, "Justice in Psychology", that were testament to their academic expertise and credentials. In her Keynote Presentation, Vickie Skorji, Director of TELL Lifeline, addressed the conference on crisis hotlines and how they provide a vital resource for people contemplating suicide and undergoing other forms of mental distress in Japan, while Professor Frank S. Ravitch, ACERP2016 Keynote Speaker, presented on "Freedom’s Edge: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and the Future of Justice in America", outlining a clear path for balancing religious freedom and sexual freedom in the United States. On the final day, Dr Adriana Ginanjar gave an informative Featured Presentation on "Bullying and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Helping the Victims to Cope and Report", stimulating lively discussion as the conference drew to a close.

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Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Vickie Skorji
Director of TELL Lifeline, Japan

Vickie Skorji completed her Bachelor of Behavioral Sciences with honours from La Trobe University, Australia in 1995, and a Masters in Counseling from Monash University in Australia. She has specialist training in neuropsychology and Acquired Brain Injury in both hospital and rehabilitation settings. Prior to moving to Hong Kong and Tokyo she managed an Acquired Brain Injury Support Service in Australia, supporting families and individuals with a variety of neurological conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and migraine. She has developed and run carer education training courses, carer weekend retreats and published a resource book for carers of people with neurological conditions or Acquired Brain Injury. She has developed and given both workplace and community presentations on carer needs, stress management and stroke prevention. More recently her interests and presentations have included cultural adjustment, adolescent issues in Japan, work life balance and suicide prevention.


Community Mental Health – Supporting Minority Groups in Japan

Since the mid-1990s, Japan has struggled with some of the highest per capita suicide rates globally, and in 2003 – the worst year – 34,427 people died by suicide.

Crisis hotlines provide a vital resource for people contemplating suicide and other forms of mental distress. Social isolation directly impacts a person’s mental and physical wellbeing which is further compounded by language and cultural differences. Both foreign and minority populations within Japan face disadvantages at the community, societal, and services levels. The vulnerabilities of these populations was further highlighted following the effects of the Tohoku earthquake. How does a Lifeline providing services in a minority language – in a country recording some of the highest suicide rates and incidences of earthquakes in the world– provide support, generate funding, and maintain volunteer numbers?

Frank S. Ravitch
Michigan State University College of Law, USA

Professor Ravitch’s career has included experience in private practice and on Capitol Hill. Since joining Michigan State University’s Law College he has authored several books, and a number of law review articles, essays, book reviews, and book chapters, as well as amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author of Freedom’s Edge: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and the Future of America (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2016); Marketing Creation: The Law and Intelligent Design (Cambridge University Press 2012), Masters of Illusion: The Supreme Court and the Religion Clauses (NYU Press 2007); Law and Religion: Cases, Materials, and Readings (West 2004) (2nd Ed. 2008) (3rd Ed. 2015 with Larry Cata Backer), School Prayer and Discrimination: The Civil Rights of Religious Minorities and Dissenters (Northeastern University Press, 1999 & paperback edition 2001). He is co-author, with the late Boris Bittker and with Scott Idleman, of the first comprehensive treatise on Law and Religion in more than one hundred years, Religion and the State in American Law (Cambridge University Press 2015) (this project was supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment). He is also co-author of Employment Discrimination Law (Prentice Hall, 2005) (with Pamela Sumners and Janis McDonald).

Professor Ravitch’s articles, which have appeared in a number of highly regarded journals, have primarily focused on law and religion in the U.S. and Japan, but he has also written about civil rights law and disability discrimination. He has given numerous academic presentations nationally and internationally. In 2001, he was named a Fulbright scholar and served on the law faculty at Doshisha University (Japan), where he taught courses relating to U.S. constitutional law and law and religion. He serves on a Fulbright Review Committee under the auspices of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars. Complementing his professional service is his commitment to community service; Professor Ravitch has made dozens of public presentations explaining the law before school groups, community groups, and service clubs and has served as an expert commentator for print and broadcast media.

He teaches Torts I, Law and Religion, and Law and Interpretation. His current research projects include an article explaining why the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby harms the Free Exercise of Religion for traditional religious entities. He speaks English, Japanese and Hebrew.​


Freedom’s Edge – Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and the Future of Justice in America

Recent events in the United States have resulted in a national debate pitting religious freedom against the civil rights and civil liberties of the LGBT community. This controversy follows closely on the heels of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which set off a firestorm over the balance between reproductive rights and religious freedom. Both conservatives and progressives have raised the level of hysteria. The media has been happy to oblige. Television and radio news programs, newspapers, magazines and the blogosphere are filled daily with reports of discrimination by one or both sides. We have entered a new battle in the culture wars. Of course, the framing of this controversy ignores one central fact: religious freedom and strong civil rights for all can coexist when properly understood.

The stakes are high. For one side fundamental justice and human rights are involved. For the other fundamental justice and civil liberties are involved. I will assert that this supposed conflict has a resolution, and in fact, in most situations the conflict has been manufactured by partisans on each side of the culture wars. This presentation will provide an accessible and clear roadmap to the issues involved in this debate, and a clear path for balancing religious freedom and sexual freedom. Coexistence is possible, and it is necessary for the survival of America as a nation of freedom for all and can provide an example for other nations facing similar issues.


Featured Speakers

Brian Victoria
Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, Japan

Brian Victoria is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and a 1961 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. He holds a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Sōtō Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a PhD from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University.

In addition to a second, enlarged edition of Zen At War (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), Brian’s major writings include Zen War Stories (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); an autobiographical work in Japanese entitled Gaijin de ari, Zen bozu de ari (As a Foreigner, As a Zen Priest), published by San-ichi Shobo in 1971; Zen Master Dōgen, coauthored with Professor Yokoi Yūhō of Aichi-gakuin University (Weatherhill, 1976); and a translation of The Zen Life by Sato Koji (Weatherhill, 1972). In addition, Brian has published numerous journal articles, focusing on the relationship of not only Buddhism but religion in general, to violence and warfare.

From 2005 to 2013 Brian was a Professor of Japanese Studies and director of the AEA “Japan and Its Buddhist Traditions Program” at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, OH. From 2013-2015 he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan where he is writing a book tentatively entitled: Zen Terror in 1930s Japan. Brian currently continues his research as a Fellow of the Oxford Center for Buddhist Studies and is a fully ordained Buddhist priest in the Sōtō Zen sect.


Abstract for Religion and War – The Wartime Tribalization of Universal Religions

This paper explores the nature of the relationship between religion and war beyond the headlines in today’s newspapers. That is to say, beyond the presently popular idea, at least in the West, that Islam, or at least “radical Islam” or “Islamic fundamentalism” is the source, even the sole source of religion-related violence in the world. This way of thinking readily leads to the conclusion that if only Muslims would give up, or at least drastically reinterpret, such violence-affirming tenets as jihad, religion-related warfare would come to an end.

The point of departure for this paper is the relevant teaching of German philosopher Karl Jaspers. Jaspers argued that during what he called the Axial Age, i.e., the period between 800 to 200 B.C.E., the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently in China, India, Persia, Judea, and Greece. These spiritual foundations saw the birth of multiple “universal religions,” each of which believed it possessed universal truths valid for all peoples and all times. The thinking of the Axial Age centered on the meaning and purpose of life, focusing on the identity and “salvation” of the individual rather than on the collective wellbeing of the ‘tribe’.

While recognizing the importance of the Axial Age, this paper argues that the earlier “tribal mentality” and “tribal religion” did not wholly disappear but were instead sublimated within universal faiths, at least during times of peace, only to reappear once again during times of conflict between ethnic groups, religions or religious subgroups, especially today’s “nations” which are, in fact, “tribalism writ large.” What makes sublimated tribal religion so difficult to recognize is that it resides safely within the inner recesses of universal religions, so safely that even when resurrected by followers of universal religions the followers continue to imagine they are embracing the universal values and ethics of their particular universal faith.

In closing, this paper maintains that it is only by recognizing “tribal religion” for what it is, i.e., a faith limited to valorizing the wellbeing of one’s own tribe/nation at the expense of the “other,” will it become possible to transcend this limited focus and realize the true potential or “universality” of one’s faith.


Holy War – Its Causes, Nature and, if possible, its Solutions

Today, “holy war” is invariably linked to Islam with its doctrine of jihad and the barbaric practices of IS and similar terrorist groups. Yet, the historical reality is that the other four great world religions, i.e., Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, have also sacralized the use of violence if not always in the name of “holy war.”

Noble Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg described the universality of sacralized violence as follows, “With or without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things – that takes religion.” While not everyone will agree with Weinberg’s position, it can nevertheless serve as a catalyst to ask, as this panel does, “Why?”

In seeking to answer this question, papers are invited from scholars in as many relevant disciplines as possible, including, but not limited to, psychology, sociology, history, anthropology, economics and, of course, religious studies. This panel is premised on the belief that only when a multi-disciplinary, holistic understanding of this phenomenon becomes available can adequate and effective measures be devised to bring it to an end.

While this panel is but one small step in addressing the continued sacralization of violence within segments of the world’s major faiths, it finds truth in the Chinese maxim, “It is better to light a small candle than curse the darkness.” Scholars seeking to identify the “universal characteristics” of sacralized violence, i.e., characteristics transcending any one religion, are especially invited to participate in lighting that candle.

Tan Tarn How
National University of Singapore, Singapore

Tan Tarn How is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He graduated from Peterhouse, Cambridge in 1982 with Bachelor of Arts Honours, Natural Sciences Tripos. He then obtained a Diploma in Education from the Institute of Education, Singapore, in 1984 and later was also a recipient of a three-month Fulbright Scholarship to Boston University in 1993. In the earlier part of his career Tan worked as a teacher, then journalist for The Straits Times, Singapore’s main local newspaper including postings as a foreign correspondent and senior political correspondent based in Beijing and Hong Kong. Later Tan became the Head Scriptwriter for Drama Production at the Singapore Television Corporation and Associate Artistic Director of the drama company TheatreWorks, where led workshops for budding playwrights.

An Arts activist and Playwright, Tan Tarn How has written on the development of the arts in Singapore, in particular, fostering partnerships between the people, private and public sectors; the creative industries in Singapore, China and Korea; cultural policy in Singapore; and arts censorship. His research interests also include arts education and role of education in cultural and human development. He has also carried out research on the management and regulation of media in Singapore; the impact of the Internet and social media on society; the role of new and old media in the 2008 Malaysian election and the 2006 and 2011 Singapore elections; and the way in which the Internet and social media has influenced the development of civil society and democratic development.


Educational Rankings – Towards an Index of Flourishing Education

Singapore is a powerhouse in global education rankings, consistently placed among the top in league tables such as Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Its best students also frequently triumph in international competitions such as in maths and the sciences, and in diverse and creative skills ranging from debating, winning cases in moot courts to business plan writing. However, Singapore’s stellar performance belies what is at core a problematic conception of education. Critics have pointed out the cost to students and families of an intensely, even gruellingly, competitive system. But a greater concern is a narrow view of education as largely and fundamentally economic and instrumental in purpose. Despite assurances to the contrary, society at large (and hence the school system) devalues or has come to devalue other aspects of life (and hence of education) such as arts and culture, history, sports and citizenship in a democracy. While it might be argued that an economistic and instrumental conception of education was necessary during the early stages of Singapore’s development, this no longer holds true. Such a conception not only short changes citizens, but (contradictorily from an instrumental point of view) poses a threat to further economic development in this modern world where the ability to make connections and to ask questions rather than to merely seek answers are factors that will drive the economy.

Adriana Ginanjar
Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia

Adriana Ginanjar has over ten years of experience at the Faculty of Psychology, Universitas Indonesia, where she initially gained her PhD She since gone on to hold roles including Vice Dean of Education, Research, and Students Affairs, Secretary of the Academic Senate, Head of the Clinical Department, Coordinator of the Psychology Clinic and most recently as Assistant Professor. Adriana is also Director of Mandiga, a school for autistic individuals, and a practicing marriage and family therapist.

Adriana’s research interests are in child autism treatment, mindfulness therapy, special needs parenting as well as family therapy, including marital and infidelity problems. She has published extensively on these subjects, with four book titles to her name, and numerous paper titles which she has presented at international conferences in Asia, Europe and Australia.


Bullying and Autism Spectrum Disorder – Helping the Victims to Cope and Report

In the life of adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), interaction with peers at school is a source of stress and traumatic experience. The cause is bullying, the intentional aggressive behavior in the form of verbal and physical harassment and involve power imbalance. Bullying has negative impact on adolescents with ASD, especially if it happens in a long period of time. Because of difficulty in understanding social situations, they are often confused about how to respond to bullies. A number of studies have shown that bullying related to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, lower academic achievement, and social isolation. For adolescents with ASD, the impact is even worse and can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Therapy for bullying in adolescents with ASD usually requires a long time. It is not easy for them to share the bullying experience because talking about it may inflict intense negative emotions, such as sadness, confusion, anger, and frustration. They also have difficulty in communicating their thoughts and feelings verbally. To help them to be more open about their experiences, therapist needs to understand the unique world of adolescents with ASD and develop a relationship based on empathy and acceptance. Discussing the special characteristics of ASD is also essential. The therapist can discuss about bullying, negative emotions related to it, and coping skills, after they feel more comfortable in therapy session. In addressing bullying at school, the therapist also needs to communicate with teachers and school administrators to develop anti bullying program.


Spotlight Speakers

Monty P. Satiadarma
Tarumanagara University, Indonesia

Dr Satiadarma is a clinical psychologist who has been teaching psychology at Tarumanagara University since 1994. He was one of the founders of the Department of Psychology at Tarumanagara, as well as the Dean of Psychology, Vice Rector and Rector of the university. He graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Indonesia, art therapy from Emporia State, Kansas, family counselling from Notre Dame de Namur, California, and clinical hypnotherapy from Irvine, California. He has nationally published a number of books with a particular interest in educational psychology, and in music and art therapy – methods with which he treated survivors of the Indonesian tsunami on behalf of the International Red Cross and the United Nations. He is a board member and area chair of the International Council of Psychology, and a founder and board member of the Asian Psychology Association.


Fairness and Happiness

Many people complain that they feel unhappy because they have to receive unfair treatment. Children feel unhappy and consider their parents treat them unfairly. Employees feel unhappy and perceive their employers treat them unfair. In reality people may have to receive unfair treatment before finding happiness. Many successful people experience unfair treatment in their early life but at the end they experience happy life. Many of us may still remember the story of puss in boots, where a girl must accept a cat, as a form of an unfair share of the family heritage, while others received various family properties. She finally found happiness for having the cat who turned to be a prince. She accepted well her share and she found happiness by accepting her life experience, even an unfair treatment. In numbers of conditions people may share the same quantity and quality of life, but some individuals experience fairness whereas others consider as unfair.

A share of $5 out of $25 may be perceived as an insult, where as a share of $5 out of $10 may be perceived as fair treatment and rewarding which influences feeling of happiness. The same amount of $5 would create different circuitry in the brain regions. Researches in cognitive neuro-science reported that fair and unfair treatment influences the circuitry of particular brain areas in human beings. For example, perception of unfair treatment such as and insult would activate the insulae area in the brain, the region similar to the area that is influenced by feeling of disgust. Fair treatment would activate the ventral striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and the circuitry of the area similar to the feeling of being rewarded. Perception influences fairness and happiness although the amount of shares are the same. The way people perceive influences their brain regions circuitry which creates various impact on their behaviors. If people can switch their perception by learning to accept life experiences with more gratitude, they may find more happiness. If they keep complaining about being treated unfair, their brain may activate the feeling of disgust which creates negative attitudes toward life.

James Phillips
University of New South Wales, Australia

Dr James Phillips is currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. After completing an MA in Comparative Literature and Critical Theory at Monash University, he studied as a PhD candidate in Philosophy in both Austria (ÖAD) and Germany (DAAD) before returning to Australia to finish his doctorate under Jeff Malpas at the University of Tasmania. Stanford University Press subsequently published his dissertation under the title Heidegger’s Volk: Between National Socialism and Poetry. In 2007 Dr Phillips also published with them his second monograph The Equivocation of Reason: Kleist Reading Kant. The following year they brought out his edited collection Cinematic Thinking: Philosophical Approaches to the New Cinema. Dr Phillips has translated two books from German: Alexander García Düttmann, Philosophy of Exaggeration (London: Continuum, 2007) and Christoph Menke, Tragic Play: Irony and Theater from Sophocles to Beckett (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009). He began at UNSW in 2006 as a Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow and from 2007 to 2011 held an ARC Australian Research Fellowship to investigate philosophical questions surrounding community. Dr Phillips has also been a visiting fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh and at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina.


Beauty and Justice – The Temptations of an Analogy

Beauty and justice are often analysed in similar terms and each has been invoked in the description, indeed praise of the other. Disinterest, the rightness of a fit or composition, and the irreducibility to laws figure among the areas of overlap. Ascertaining the dis-analogies between these two contested, flexible and historically intertwined concepts is not straightforward, if nevertheless crucial for a non-fallacious handling of the analogy. Pleasure, for example, is an essential marker of the beautiful in many accounts, but were a theory of justice – with an eye to establishing the discreteness of its object – to set out the irrelevance of even Kant’s disinterested pleasure, it would struggle to compensate for the loss of pleasure as a motivator for just acts.

Arguably, the difference between justice and beauty must be left to the judgement of the instances in which the two terms are employed. That judgement should have such a role in relation to justice and beauty accords with its longstanding role within them. In European legal theory a prince was long excused from the constraints of the laws on the basis that the resulting freedom of action would allow him to administer justice in circumstances where a mechanical application of the laws would be unjust. The rise of the idea of genius in the eighteenth century could be said not simply to coincide with the curtailment of the royal prerogative (or at least with the theoretical dissatisfaction with it) but furthermore to represent its banishment to aesthetics.

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Organising Committee

ACP2016

Dexter Da Silva
Keisen University, Japan

Dr Dexter Da Silva is currently Professor of Educational Psychology at Keisen University in Tokyo, Japan. He has taught EFL at junior high school, language schools, and universities in Sydney, and for the past two decades has been living and teaching at the tertiary level in Japan. Professor Da Silva was educated at the University of Sydney (BA, Dip. Ed., MA), and the University of Western Sydney (PhD) He has presented and co-presented at conferences in Asia, Australia, Europe and the U.S., and written or co-written articles and book chapters on education-related topics, such as trust, student motivation, autonomy, and content-based language teaching. He is a past editor and current associate editor of On CUE Journal, regular reviewer for conferences and proceedings, and recent co-chair of the 2011 CUE Conference on Motivation.

Jiro Takai
Nagoya University, Japan

Jiro Takai is Professor of social psychology at Nagoya University and received his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has served in the executive committees of the Japan Society for Social Psychology, the Japan Group Dynamics Society, the Japan Intercultural Education Society, the Communication Association of Japan, and the Japan-U.S. Communication Association (affiliate of National Communication Association). Although he was born in Japan, he spent 15 years as a youth growing up in Canada, and has also spent two years living in the United States. Because of his background, he has an interest in cross-cultural matters, particularly in the context of interpersonal communication, as well as research interests in interpersonal competence, self-presentation and Multi-faceted self concept.

Minoru Karasawa
Nagoya University, Japan

Minoru Karasawa received his Master’s degree from Kyoto University and his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, both majoring in psychology. He has been at Nagoya University since 2006, before which he taught at Aichi Gakuin University and Kobe University. Dr Karasawa’s primary research area has been social cognition, covering various issues such as social categorisation, intergroup cognition and emotions, and the role of culture and language in social inferences. He is also heading a research project on the psychological mechanism underlying judgments of responsibility and punitive motives in legal contexts. He has been an Associate Editor of the Asian Journal of Social Psychology and the Editor of the Japanese Journal of Social Psychology. Academic associations that he has served as a board member include the Japanese Society of Social Psychology, the Japanese Group Dynamics Association, and the Japanese Society for Law and Psychology. He has been a member of the Science Council of Japan since 2006.

Monty P. Satiadarma
Tarumanagara University, Indonesia

Dr Satiadarma is a clinical psychologist who has been teaching psychology at Tarumanagara University since 1994. He was one of the founders of the Department of Psychology at Tarumanagara, as well as the Dean of Psychology, Vice Rector and Rector of the university. He graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Indonesia, art therapy from Emporia State, Kansas, family counselling from Notre Dame de Namur, California, and clinical hypnotherapy from Irvine, California. He has nationally published a number of books with a particular interest in educational psychology, and in music and art therapy – methods with which he treated survivors of the Indonesian tsunami on behalf of the International Red Cross and the United Nations. He is a board member and area chair of the International Council of Psychology, and a founder and board member of the Asian Psychology Association.


ACERP2016

Frank S. Ravitch
Michigan State University College of Law, USA

Professor Ravitch’s career has included experience in private practice and on Capitol Hill. Since joining Michigan State University’s Law College he has authored several books, and a number of law review articles, essays, book reviews, and book chapters, as well as amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author of Freedom’s Edge: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and the Future of America (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2016); Marketing Creation: The Law and Intelligent Design (Cambridge University Press 2012), Masters of Illusion: The Supreme Court and the Religion Clauses (NYU Press 2007); Law and Religion: Cases, Materials, and Readings (West 2004) (2nd Ed. 2008) (3rd Ed. 2015 with Larry Cata Backer), School Prayer and Discrimination: The Civil Rights of Religious Minorities and Dissenters (Northeastern University Press, 1999 & paperback edition 2001). He is co-author, with the late Boris Bittker and with Scott Idleman, of the first comprehensive treatise on Law and Religion in more than one hundred years, Religion and the State in American Law (Cambridge University Press 2015) (this project was supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment). He is also co-author of, Employment Discrimination Law (Prentice Hall, 2005) (with Pamela Sumners and Janis McDonald).

Professor Ravitch’s articles, which have appeared in a number of highly regarded journals, have primarily focused on law and religion in the U.S. and Japan, but he has also written about civil rights law and disability discrimination. He has given numerous academic presentations nationally and internationally. In 2001, he was named a Fulbright scholar and served on the law faculty at Doshisha University (Japan), where he taught courses relating to U.S. constitutional law and law and religion. He serves on a Fulbright Review Committee under the auspices of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars. Complementing his professional service is his commitment to community service; Professor Ravitch has made dozens of public presentations explaining the law before school groups, community groups, and service clubs and has served as an expert commentator for print and broadcast media.

He teaches Torts I, Law and Religion, and Law and Interpretation. His current research projects include an article explaining why the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby harms the Free Exercise of Religion for traditional religious entities. He speaks English, Japanese and Hebrew.​

Brian Victoria
Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, Japan

Dr Brian Victoria is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and a 1961 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. He holds a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Sōtō Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a PhD from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University.

In addition to a second, enlarged edition of Zen At War (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), Brian’s major writings include Zen War Stories (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); an autobiographical work in Japanese entitled Gaijin de ari, Zen bozu de ari (As a Foreigner, As a Zen Priest), published by San-ichi Shobo in 1971; Zen Master Dōgen, coauthored with Professor Yokoi Yūhō of Aichi-gakuin University (Weatherhill, 1976); and a translation of The Zen Life by Sato Koji (Weatherhill, 1972). In addition, Brian has published numerous journal articles, focusing on the relationship of not only Buddhism but religion in general, to violence and warfare.

From 2005 to 2013 Brian was a Professor of Japanese Studies and director of the AEA “Japan and Its Buddhist Traditions Program” at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, OH. From 2013-2015 he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan where he is writing a book tentatively entitled: Zen Terror in 1930s Japan. Brian currently continues his research as a Fellow of the Oxford Center for Buddhist Studies and is a fully ordained Buddhist priest in the Sōtō Zen sect.

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Conference Videos

Frank S. Ravitch

Freedom’s Edge – Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and the Future of Justice in America

Recent events in the United States have resulted in a national debate pitting religious freedom against the civil rights and civil liberties of the LGBT community. This controversy follows closely on the heels of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which set off a firestorm over the balance between reproductive rights and religious freedom. Both conservatives and progressives have raised the level of hysteria. The media has been happy to oblige. Television and radio news programs, newspapers, magazines and the blogosphere are filled daily with reports of discrimination by one or both sides. We have entered a new battle in the culture wars. Of course, the framing of this controversy ignores one central fact: religious freedom and strong civil rights for all can coexist when properly understood.

The stakes are high. For one side fundamental justice and human rights are involved. For the other fundamental justice and civil liberties are involved. I will assert that this supposed conflict has a resolution, and in fact, in most situations the conflict has been manufactured by partisans on each side of the culture wars. This presentation will provide an accessible and clear roadmap to the issues involved in this debate, and a clear path for balancing religious freedom and sexual freedom. Coexistence is possible, and it is necessary for the survival of America as a nation of freedom for all and can provide an example for other nations facing similar issues.

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