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Siena Participates in ‘Fundamentalism’ Conference

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Two Siena College department heads participated during the week of Sept. 11 in a four-day conversation regarding “Beyond Fundamentalism,” sponsored by the Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory and Research, in Big Sur, Calif.

Peter Zaas, head of Siena’s Religious Studies Department, and Betty Bachman, head of the college’s department of psychology, were invited to join the conversation, which was convened by Joseph Montville, a diplomat and director at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy.

The conference featured Jewish, Christian, and Moslem scholars who have studied the question of religious violence, especially as it applies to Judaism. Israeli and American journalists also attended including Emmy Award-winning journalist Anisa Mehdi and CNN diplomatic correspondent David Krieger.

David Bossman, a former Siena College professor now at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, presented a Catholic perspective on the topic.

Zaas, who directs the Hayyim Kieval Institute for Jewish-Christian Studies at Siena College, offered remarks on “Deconstructing the Anti-Judaism of the New Testament.” Bachman, an expert in study of the psychology of prejudice and stereotyping, shared a social-psychological approach to group interactions.