The 2017 Arthur N. Rupe Great Debate: Is ISIS an Existential Threat to the United States?

Posted on May 16 by SEASONS Magazine

ICAR professor Marc Gopin, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

ICAR professor Marc Gopin, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

On Thursday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m., UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center and UCSB Arts & Lectures presents The 2017 Arthur N. Rupe Great Debate: Is ISIS an Existential Threat to the United States? with Monica Duffy Toft and Marc Gopin, moderated by Marj Juergensmeyer at UCSB Campbell Hall.

The world’s most dangerous terrorist regime, ISIS, is quickly losing control in both Syria and Iraq. However, considering its global network of internet supporters, its end is uncertain. With every aspect of it being controversial, does ISIS pose a threat to the U.S., Iran, Russia and other countries? If it is a threat, how do we deal with it? The 2017 Arthur N. Rupe Great explores these issues with experts who do not always have the same views.

Toft is currently a Professor of International Politics and Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Previously, she was Professor of Government and Public Policy at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government for four years after teaching at Harvard’s Kennedy School for over a decade. Graduating from the University of Chicago with both a master’s and doctorate degree in political science and from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Slavic languages and literature, summa cum laude, Toft spent four years in the U.S. Army as a Russian linguist. Named a Carnegie Scholar for her research on religion and violence, most recently Toft was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to Norway and the World Politics Fellowship at Princeton University. Her areas of interest are international security and foreign policy, ethnic and religious violence, civil wars and political demography. She has published many scholarly articles and policy pieces and written books including Political Demography: How Population Changes are Reshaping International Security and National Politics, Rethinking Religion in World Affairs, God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics and Securing the Peace.

Monica Duffy Toft, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Monica Duffy Toft, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

The James H. Laue Professor of Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution and the Director of the Center on Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Gopin has lectured around the world in Switzerland, Ireland, India, Italy and Israel as well as at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton and many other educational institutions. He was ordained as a rabbi at Yeshiva University in 1983 and has a doctorate degree in religious ethics from Brandeis University. Training thousands worldwide in peacemaking strategies for complex conflicts in which religion and culture play a role, Gopin conducts research on values dilemma as they apple to international problems of globalization, clash of cultures, development, social justice and conflict. He has appeared on media outlets, including CNN, CNN International, Court TV, The Jim Lehrer News Hour, Israel Radio, NPR, The Connection, Voice of America and the national public radios of Sweden, Ireland and Northern Ireland. His books include Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence and Peacemaking; Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East, Healing the Heart of Conflict and To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy in an Age of Religious Militancy. Additionally, he is the creator and chief author of, a daily weblog.

Juergensmeyer is a professor of global studies and sociology, Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair of Global and Sikh Studies and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was founding director of the Global and International Studies Program and the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies. An expert on religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics, Juergensmeyer has published more than 200 articles and 20 books, including God in the Tumult of the Global Square: Religion in Global Civil Society. Based on interviews with religious activists around the world, his popular book Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence was listed by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times as one of the best nonfiction books of the year.

For tickets and more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or visit

—Kathryn Shim


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