Students in a number of locations on campus had an opportunity Monday to hear from Dr. Shaun Casey (’79) on a range of topics.
While he was originally invited to campus by Dr. David Dillman, professor of political science and director of the Jack Pope Fellows Program, to speak to the Pope Fellows, he additionally spoke in a number of classes and during a forum which was open to the public on Monday night.
The crowd for his talk on Monday evening contained a variety of attendees of different ages and backgrounds as the event was open to the general public.
Casey received his undergraduate degree from ACU before going on to receive his masters of of public administration, masters of divinity and doctorate of theology from Harvard University.
He was the founding director of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs at the State Department during the Obama administration where he was at the cutting edge of merging academic knowledge of religion with real-world diplomatic efforts across the globe.
His office filled a void which had always existed at the state department. Prior to the creation of the office, diplomats would conduct important work in a variety of locales, with no specific knowledge of the religious dynamics in their region. Along with advising diplomats, his office set about combating a global spike in antisemitism, promoting ecumenical efforts in the Middle East and further encouraging religious freedom across the globe.
His talk to the public Monday evening touched upon his work at the state department, the interwoven topics of religion and politics in America and the decline of religiosity among America’s youth.
In addition, he offered a challenge to younger generations.
“The inability of institutional religion in America to embrace diversity, affirmatively and productively sets a bad example for younger generations. Younger generations carry a greater burden to lead on diversity in institutions in a way my generation has failed,” Casey said.
Casey no longer works at the State Department as a result of the Trump administration disagreeing with the former administration over the importance of the work he was doing. Casey lamented this, but said he foresees the work continuing once a new administration is in place.