Brent McCamon, a fourth-year International Studies major from Windsor, Ont., has won first place in the 2014/15 Faith & Globalisation Essay Competition sponsored by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF).
For this competition, students were asked to deliver a policy briefing on how to engage religious groups in resolving conflict in either Nigeria, Central African Republic or Myanmar. In the award announcement, the Foundation noted that “Brent’s informative and nuanced ideas demonstrate a very clear pathway for his country’s government to consider.”
Brent notes in his essay—entitled Canada’s Role: Diffusing Ethno-Religious Violence in Nigeria—that “Canada… is in a unique position to aid in the conflict resolution process (in Nigeria).” He describes how international pressure, a strengthened legal system and developing tolerance through education can work together “to diffuse the instability that has defined the region by calling on the parties involved to end the religious violence.” The entire essay has been posted on the Foundation’s website.
The award came as a surprise to Brent. “I couldn’t believe that someone from such a small university would win such a prestigious global competition where there are so many contesting viewpoints and solutions regarding religious conflict and mediation. However, I think this speaks to the quality of education that I have received at Redeemer, specifically in the International Relations and History programs offered.”
In communicating the award to Brent, the Foundation said “We were impressed by your range of knowledge and nuanced understanding of the issue, and by your clear focus on your policy brief and recommendations throughout.” For winning the competition, Brent has received a fully funded placement at the Foundation’s Intensive Training Course at McGill University this June.
Redeemer students were eligible to enter the competition because Redeemer is part of the TBFF’s Faith and Globalisation Teaching Network. The Network supports university courses that study the importance of religion in international relations and conflict resolution. Brent credits God and Global Order, a course taught by Dr. Robert Joustra, for “allowing me to develop my own ideas concerning the relationship between faith and global politics.”
The topic is something in which Brent has developed a deeper and deeper interest. He is currently doing an off-campus program at the Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa where students are given the opportunity to explore how faith can make an impact on public life. After graduating in May and going to the program at McGill in June, he hopes to pursue research opportunities relating to the protection of religious freedom. “My experiences at Redeemer and at the Laurentian Leadership Centre have set my mind on being involved with the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom,” says Brent. “I think the work that it is outfitted to do and is currently involved in is necessitated by the global climate of religious persecution and sectarian violence that we can observe on a day to day basis.
“As a Canadian Christian, and one who has repeatedly argued that we afford other faith backgrounds the same freedoms we enjoy, it is an avenue of work and belief that I would love to contribute to in the future.”