Forum to spark cultural debate at USC

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Forum to spark cultural debate at USC


USC Lecturer in Sociology Dr Phillip Ablett

21 August 2014

Dozens of University of the Sunshine Coast students and staff from different countries and cultures are expected to join a dynamic public forum where at least six local religious leaders will debate the issue of diversity across our region.

USC will host the Sunshine Coast Interfaith and Multicultural Hypothetical Forum (and Cafe) on Saturday 30 August from 9am to 12.30pm.

USC Lecturer in Sociology Dr Phillip Ablett said the University was delighted to host the forum, one of six regional events to be held at various universities in the lead-up to a debate in Brisbane during Queensland Cultural Diversity Week in September.

“There will be opportunities for discussion on what cultural diversity means on the Sunshine Coast today and where it might lead in future,” Dr Ablett said.

“We’re inviting all the major faith and cultural groupings on the Coast, community and political leaders.”

Confirmed so far are Jewish Rabbi John D Cooper, Sensei Barry Farrin from the Forestway Zen Buddhist Centre, USC’s own Indonesian specialist Dr Phillip Mahnken and representatives from Muslim, Christian, Baha’i and Indigenous communities.

They will discuss a hypothetical topic set in the year 2020, when Malcolm Turnbull is Prime Minister, state governments have been dissolved and the Sunshine Coast has been sequestered as a region for the formation of a “diversity metropolis”.

“It’s designed to stimulate discussion and is particularly fitting given USC’s inclusive campus with more than 69 cultures represented in our student population,” Dr Ablett said.

“The Sunshine Coast region has become more diverse since I came here in 1997 and USC is a major contributor with its international and exchange students, and staff.”

The forum, which includes morning tea, has support from the USC Vice-Chancellor’s Office. The forum series is an initiative of the Griffith University Centre for Interfaith and Multicultural Dialogue.

The forum is open to the public. Prospective participants can register on the day or email

Julie Schomberg

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