Plenary Speakers

International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations, by researchers and practitioners.

Paul Bramadat
Desmond Cahill
Robert McKim

Garden Conversations

Plenary Speakers will make formal 30-minute presentations. They will also participate in 60-minute Garden Conversations – unstructured sessions that allow delegates a chance to meet the speakers and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

Please return to this page for regular updates.

The Speakers

Paul Bramadat
Paul Bramadat received his PhD in religious studies from McMaster University. Since 2008, Paul has been the Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society (CSRS) at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. He also holds teaching appointments in the University’s Department of History and the Religious Studies Program. During 2011-2012 he will serve as the director of the Program.

Pauls’ first book, The Church on the World’s Turf (Oxford 2000), examined the ways religious sub-cultures can thrive in largely secular environments. His most recent book is International Migration and the Governance of Religious Diversity (McGill-Queen’s University Press 2009), co-edited with German sociologist Matthias Koenig. He has published broadly on issues related to ethnic diversity in Canada, the two most relevant publications being Religion and Ethnicity in Canada (Pearson 2005; University of Toronto Press 2009), and Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada (University of Toronto 2008). His articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Ethnicities, Canadian Ethnic Studies, Studies in Religion, Ethnologies, and the Journal of International Migration and Integration, as well as magazines such as Canadian Diversity, The Ecumenist and Canadian Issues.

He has just completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded project on postcolonial religious narratives among Indo-Caribbean Canadian Christians. As well, he has been involved in collaborative policy relevant research and the management of major research projects. For over a decade he has been an active member of the Metropolis Project, an international and national network for comparative public policy research on migration, diversity and immigrant integration in urban centres.

He is often commissioned by federal government departments and agencies, such as Citizenship and Immigration, Canadian Heritage, the Metropolis Project and Public Safety Canada to lecture and write about the implications of religious diversity for Canadian policy makers interested in immigration, inclusion and security. He spoke recently about secularism and religion in the Breakfast on the Hill series on Parliament Hill and about religious minorities and social inclusion at the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
Paul’s current research interests include the intersections between secularism, religious radicalization, securitization, post-colonialism, and religious identity in contemporary Canada. Many of these interests revolve around emerging understandings of religious, political and ethnic identity in rapidly evolving liberal democratic societies.

Desmond Cahill
Desmond Cahill, Professor of Intercultural Studies at RMIT University in Melbourne, is a leading authority on ethnic and religious diversity. He is the current chair of Religions for Peace Australia, and co-president and deputy moderator of Religions for Peace Asia. In 2006 he led Melbourne’s successful bid to stage the 2009 Melbourne Parliament of the World’s Religions and was its Melbourne program director. He has co-authored the report to the Australian government, Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia (2004) and the report to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Freedom of Religion and Belief in 21st Century Australia (2011).In 2010 he was awarded the Order of the Medal of Australia for “his services to intercultural education and to the interfaith movement”.

Robert McKim
Robert McKim ( is Professor of Religion and of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include the philosophical and theological implications of religious diversity, and fundamental questions concerning religion and environmental thought. His publications include these books with Oxford University Press: Religious Ambiguity and Religious Diversity; On Religious Diversity; and The Morality of Nationalism, which was co-edited with Jeff McMahan. Recent and forthcoming articles include “A Path to (and beyond) Tolerance,” “On Religious Ambiguity,” and "Environment and Ecology in Religions." McKim is co-organizer of the campus Scholarship of Sustainability Series at the University of Illinois. He was Head of the Department of Religion at Illinois from 2005-2010.