MU panel to discuss ‘The Holy Land’

Nadine Fox, Staff writer

Mercyhurst will host a faculty panel on Thursday, March 30, titled ‘Religion, Politics, and Security in the Holy Land’ at 7 p.m. in Zurn 114.

The panel will feature some of our Mercyhurst faculty members, including Robert von Thaden, Ph.D., of Religious Studies, Sey- ma Akyol, Ph.D., of Political Science and Brooke Shannon, Ph.D., of Intelligence Studies.

Verna Ehret, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Religious Studies and director of ELIES organized this vent and encourages students to attend these religious panels to gain a diverse perspective on faith and concern with social justice.

“These offerings will provide our university community and the greater Erie community an opportunity for reflection and growth,” Ehret said. Ehret will begin the panel with an opening speech. This will be a brief introduction framing description of the speaker’s topics and each speaker will be given about ten minutes to speak. All three members of the panel have had the opportunity to visit Israel and Palestine and will be talking about their experiences in their disciplines. Shannon teaches courses in intelligence analysis, intelligence writing, terrorism and global security. Prior to teaching, she was an intelligence analyst at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center while serving in the United States Air Force. She will be looking at this as a particularly important space through National Security for Israel in relation to the Palestine people and how that will impact American National Security.

Akyol is an Assistant Professor and teaches courses in international relations and comparative politics.

Her research is in the intersection of conflict management, human rights, and peace-building.

In addition, her research agenda also focuses on ethnic conflicts area-wise. Akyol has special interests for the Middle East and Africa.

She will be focusing on American and global politics which has a huge effect on the perception of Jewish communities and Islamic communities in the United States.

Von Thaden is a Professor of Religious Studies who specializes in biblical and sacred texts. He will be looking at the Na- tional Security interpretations and political interpretations and drawing upon what it means to live in these communities.

He will also be explaining how and why this particular space is referred to as the “holy land.” Once space is defined as “sacred,” it changes how people view, interact and their attitudes towards the space. The panel will wrap up at 8:15 p.m. after each speaker has had the chance to speak about the space on behalf of their discipline.

There will be a few prearranged questions designed to get the three speakers discussing and talking amongst themselves and to hopefully provide the audience with time to process what they are listening to and develop and formulate their own questions. Once the prearranged questions are finished, there will then be an open dialogue with the audience for anyone who wants to be a part of the conversation.