Professor of Religion Gereon Kopf presents “Confronting our Unwillingness to Encounter the ‘Other’”


Professor of Religion Gereon Kopf gave the Women’s History Month opening lecture on March 1. Photo courtesy of Charlie Mitchell.

On Wednesday, March 1, Professor of Religion Gereon Kopf presented the Women’s History Month opening lecture. Students, faculty and community members gathered in Baker Commons to have sushi, cheese and crackers and to listen to Kopf present “Confronting our Unwillingness to Encounter the ‘Other’”, which outlined an ethics-based, four-part approach to identity formation and acceptance. Kopf discussed the implications of giving this talk as the opening lecture.


“I’m embarrassed, I have to say, to be at Women’s History Month,”  Kopf said. “The talk is not necessarily about women or history.” 


Kopf concluded his talk by noting the importance of four responses to diversity—ethnocentrism, “clash of civilizations”, cosmopolitanism, and hybridism—and how they relate to everyday interactions, as well as scholarly work and study. 


“Engagement with other cultures, with other professions has to be multilogue,” Kopf said. “It’s not a monologue, it’s not a dialogue, it’s a multilogue. The goal is to exist together and complement each other.” 


One student in attendance, Salomé Valdivieso Santillán (‘23), thought that the talk was well-written and articulated eloquently. She touched on her takeaways and thoughts in regards to the talk and questions after. 


“I thought that the talk was very interesting,” Santillán said. “I think that Professor Kopf’s concept of multilogue is super revolutionary. I think the audience was very engaged with the questions raised, and I am definitely interested [in learning] more about [the topic].”


Outside of his work as a professor, Kopf has published many articles in both Japanese and English about Buddhism and global philosophy. Professor of Sociology Char Kunkel touched on what she thought of her colleague. 


“He’s prolific, well-read, well-written [and] multilingual,” Kunkel said. “He’s done just about everything. He’s taught in many places all over the world, he has published many things. What I want to tell you about my colleague is that he’s really funny, and he’s also very kind.”


The next Women’s History Month showcase will be on Wednesday, March 8, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall. Local female entrepreneurs will share experiences and lessons they learned on their professional journeys after college.