Tony Blair Welcomes First African University to the Faith and Globalisation Initiative

Supporting Leaders

Tony Blair Welcomes First African University to the Faith and Globalisation Initiative

19 Nov 2010

Tony Blair today signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Sierra Leone - Fourah Bay College and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation marking the partnership between the two organisations through the Foundation's Faith and Globalisation Initiative. The ceremony took place at the Statehouse in Freetown, in the presence of His Excellency the President, Ernest Bai Koroma, the Education Minister Dr Minkailu Bah, Acting Vice Chancellor of University of Sierra Leone, Professor Jonas Redwood-Sawyerr and Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Yormah.

The Faith and Globalisation Initiative is a network of leading universities on every continent which undertakes academic teaching and research to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between faith and globalisation. The results help emerging leaders understand how faith motivates people, and analyses the impact of religion on the modern world.

Fourah Bay College is the oldest University College in West Africa, soon to celebrate its 180th anniversary. The Faith and Globalisation course will examine the lessons learned from Sierra Leone's complex history in terms of the impact of religion on conflict and will look at the way religion is influencing development, including Sierra Leone's reputation as one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world. Fourah Bay's involvement will enrich the Initiative as the only African university in the network.

As with all the Initiative's universities, the course will be multi-disciplinary, combining the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Department of Peace & Conflict Studies. This approach takes the study of religion closer to the study of society and public life.

Tony Blair said, "I am delighted that Fourah Bay College has joined my Foundation's Faith and Globalisation Initiative. Fourah Bay College has a particular historical significance for me as my father taught law here during the 1960's. Sierra Leone is a country with bright future, turning its back on past troubles and bringing growth and stability to its people. High levels of religiosity and religious tolerance, and strong interfaith relations have played a positive role in this restorative process. This course will examine the impact of religion on conflict in the Sierra Leonean context. Critically Fourah Bay College's involvement will add an important African voice to the ongoing debate on the impact of faith on the modern world."

Professor Redwood Sawyerr, Acting Vice Chancellor of University of Sierra Leone said: "We are proud to be partnering with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. This course will enable university students to debate on the role of faith and globalization towards the consolidation of peace. This of course implies an awesome responsibility in maintaining the rich tradition of excellence and quality education and indeed advancing the frontiers of knowledge especially in this knowledge driven age of technology."

Religious literacy and an understanding of faith and globalisation is an essential part of modern government. Through the Faith and Globalisation network, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is nurturing a generation of graduates who are equipped with the knowledge and understanding to appreciate the role of religion in the world, understand how it motivates decision-making and public policy, and who can use these insights in their futures. This skill set will be fundamental to an effective civil service. In this way, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative will complement the work that AGI are doing and, in the long term, help to strengthen governments further.

Fourah Bay College will join seven other leading research universities around the world; Yale University, Durham University (UK), McGill University (Canada), Peking University, University of Western Australia, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico) and the National University of Singapore. Over the past two weeks Tony Blair has lectured and delivered speeches on the role of faith in the modern world at Tecnológico de Monterrey University in Mexico, with Peking University at the 2010 Beijing Forum in China, Yale University and McGill University, Canada.

Although the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding today marks the launch of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's work into Africa, Tony Blair has been working in Sierra Leone through his Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) since October 2008. AGI works with the Presidents of Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Liberia to help build capacity and strengthen effective governance, with a view to promoting sustainable economic growth and relieving poverty. This week Tony Blair will also visit Liberia as part of his work with AGI.