Santa Clara University


Possible Uses for Different Types of Website Visitors

Who might this website serve? The great contemporary challenge to both practitioners and academics is to relate the almost daily extraordinary world changes to the global economic, military, communication, and political systems, and to understand how these events and system changes relate to specific decisions in one’s own organizations and/or field of expertise. In the area of religion and ethics, Americans face a special challenge since their largely secular educational system has shortchanged these issues in its worldview.

Political practitioners understand the domestic and international aspects of particular countries and regions. They can read additional short introductory descriptions of the relationships of religion and politics in a particular country, and learn practical approaches to a particular global ethical issue. The site also provides selected further resources to think about these countries and issues.

Religious practitioners may have a good sense of religious-political and ethical issues in their own traditions, but may not have been exposed to the thinking of other traditions or the general political, economic, military, and communication aspects of such issues. The site could provide introductions and resources in these other areas.

University faculty and researchers may be specialists in politics, religion, economics, arms control, natural science, engineering, or communication studies, but not have the requisite background in another academic field. This site might offer them an introductory approach and further scholarly resources.

University students may want to think about “the whole picture” in relating their major to other disciplines and other geographic regions. Or they may want an introduction and resources for further academic exploration.

The general educated public constantly seeks new ways of understanding the myriad global changes as we rethink our vision of the world and its future. This has been especially true since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Cold War paradigm.

All of us, practitioners, academics, students, and the general public need inspiration for our lives, so that we not only better understand our world, but also make efforts to improve it for our children and our grandchildren. The fifth section on a global ethic and global moral leadership focuses most specifically on providing such materials, but the entire website is written with this final goal in mind.

Website Advantages and Weaknesses
What caveats should the website user observe? First, the strengths and weaknesses of the website flow from the same source. This is largely a single-authored website. While many people have designed and added materials, website choices have been made by a single academic, not a research team. The expanded research notes of Eric Hanson for Religion and Politics in the International System Today originally grounded the website, with strong additions from the writings and scholarly orientations of Hans Küng and Kirk Hanson, plus preexisting Markkula Center website materials. The interpretation of all materials, and especially the mistakes in interpretation and placement, belong to Eric Hanson. After finishing, Eric began annotating some further readings.

The simplicity of the architecture of the website and its connections thus offer both advantages and weaknesses. With the extraordinary amount of material available on the Internet, the website aims at being selective rather than comprehensive. For example, if the visitor has not thought about Islamic politics and ethics before, he/she could read just the brief introduction, or just the introduction to the topic in a few recommended books and articles. Few comprehensive research centers on Islam would have the chutzpah to make these kinds of recommendations. But this website also hopes to include the web addresses for these major comprehensive research centers and websites. We hope to distinguish ourselves, at this site, in our selectivity and in our connections among topics. For us, the great challenge is to relate and to unify the ever increasing diversity of materials in these fields. And we will very much appreciate any corrections and recommendations that visitors send us.