The 6th conference by Nazareth College's Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and the IIIT Chair for Interfaith Studies again bring together scholars from around the globe to share research on contemporary issues in religion and social sciences. 

Mystical Traditions: Approaches to Peaceful Coexistence, 2021

Location:  Virtual

When: May 24-25, 2021 Monday and Tuesday

Why Virtual:  Viewing the continuing threat of COVID 19, our Conference Committee, including representatives from Rome, met virtually Oct.26, and decided to hold the Conference virtually on May 24-25, 2021.We are thankful to our co-sponsors and we hope to have a conference at Rome in the future.

Why this conference title: Last year’s “Religions and the (De) legitimization of Violence” conference focused on human suffering, violence, terrorism, and wars in our modern world. That conference demonstrated the extent to which humanity is fractured and desperately looking to find peace in the midst of the hateful, violent atmosphere of our 21st century. Our 2021 conference on mystical traditions is meant to expand and deepen this attention to religious and spiritual approaches to peace. Our conferences always invite reflection on the religions’ sacred texts — this time with an emphasis on mysticism and the construction of peaceful alternatives to the current challenges of our violent world.

Mystical and meditative practices have existed since the beginning of humanity. Shamans, prophets, saints, Rishis, Kabbalists, Sufis and others have played a key role in guiding humanity to stay in peace and overcome suffering.  Some of these spiritual traditions have flourished and others have declined over time, but all have provided interesting modes of inquiry into the human condition and connections to the divine.

Mysticism is a broad subject and it abounds with interesting topics to investigate in the light of our contemporary issues. While we especially hope to build upon the topic of our previous conference (religion, violence, and nonviolence), and we always appreciate presentations that draw connections to the religions’ sacred texts, we will have a wide range of papers discussing the mystical dimension of religion from an interfaith perspective.

Panel Titles include:

  • Mysticism: Comparative Approaches to Peaceful Co-existence
  • Mysticism and the Role of Women
  • Mysticism and Pluralism
  • Mysticism, Global Conflicts and Peaceful Coexistence
  • Jewish Mysticism and Reconciliation
  • Mysticism and Sacred Sources across Traditions
  • Sufism and purifying the heart from prejudices and hate
  • Mysticism and Peace Making
  • Sufism: Regional Case Studies for Peaceful Coexistence
  • Mysticism: Unity, Monism, Annihilation
  • Sufism and Peaceful Coexistence
  • Mysticism: The Role of Folklore and Poetry in Peaceful Coexistence
  • Mysticism, Art, and Conflicts
  • Mystical Traditions and Environment

Administration and Planning

Event Partners
Planning Committee


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Past Conferences and Publications

2013: Focused on the role of sacred texts in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in uniting and dividing humanity. Selected papers from the conference were published in December 2014: Sacred Texts & Human Contexts: A North American Response to A Common Word between Us and You

2014: Held in Istanbul. Focused on poverty and wealth in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Selected papers were published by Palgrave MacMillan in June 2016: Poverty and Wealth in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

2016: Focused on nature and the environment in religions. Selected papers were published in January 2018: Nature and the Environment in Contemporary Religious Contexts. A WXXI public radio half-hour interview with Thomas Donlin-Smith, professor of religious studies at Nazareth College; Nathan Kollar, Hickey Center co-founder; and others explored how faith influences the environment. Fall 2017 publication by Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Nature and Environment in Contemporary Religious Contexts.

2017: Focused on women and gender in religions. Selected papers were published in February 2019: Making Gender in the Intersection of the Human and the Divine.

2018: Sacred Text and Human Context international conference is on Religions and (De)Legitimization of Violence on July 29-31, 2018 at Nazareth College. More than 50 scholarly papers are expected to be presented on the topic. The Conference Committee have selected 17 Papers for publication. The editing process are mostly compete and we are sending the manuscript to publishers. The book: Religions and (De)Legitimization of Violence (2021, Palgrave).

2021 Conference on Mystical Traditions: Approaches to Peaceful Coexistence to be held virtually May 24-25, 2021. Routledge publishing is interested.