In its attempt to carry out its academic responsibility of public education, the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) runs an academic program entitled ‘Co-Designing Sustainable, Just, and Smart Urban Living through ICRS Education’. In its implementation, ICRS in collaboration with Universitas Hindu Indonesia (UNHI), Bali, funded by the Ford Foundation and supervised by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, organized three major international events including an academic workshop, the MOOC Meeting on ‘Faith and Urban Resilience’, and the International Conference on Interreligious and Intercultural Studies (ICISS) on “Future Cities of the World”. These events were conducted between 28 September-03 October 2020 and successfully brought together professors, scholars, activists, and researchers from multiple faiths and disciplines to discuss the current need of resilient urban living. Having speakers and participants coming from various countries i.e. Kenya, the United States, the Philippines, Thailand, India, Australia, Japan, the UK, and Indonesia, the programs drew a wealth of perspectives on building a livable place for everyone. Despite being conducted virtually following tight health protocols, the workshop and conference concluded well with various unique insights from participants coming from different backgrounds.
The series of the international events began with an intensive two-day workshop on faith and urban resilience. In its first meeting on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, eight speakers of varying backgrounds and expertise shared their research findings on how faith can contribute to building urban resilience in the age of COVID-19. Led by the ICRS representative, Dr. Dicky Sofjan, the discussion highlighted the role of faith-based communities in advancing the lives of many during COVID-19 lockdowns. The fascinating views gained during the first day of the workshop resumed the following day on September 30, 2020.
On the second day of workshop, two representatives of ICRS—Dr. Dicky Sofjan and Any Marsiyanti—presented fascinating research findings on Muslim urban life in Indonesia. Based on his in-depth exploration of mosque architecture in Indonesia that has not been disability-friendly, Dicky Sofjan offers the examples of the mosque at UIN Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta and the Hubbul Wathan Islamic Center Mosque in Mataram as two leading faith communities tackling the problem of inaccessibility for disabled-people in houses of worship. Sofjan suggested that we need to think seriously about the problem of inclusivity/exclusivity to overcome these barriers in our houses of worship.
Focusing on the issue of religious leaders’ initiative in targeting youth for sustainable ecology, Any Marsiyanti related interesting data about young Muslim students’ views of sustainable cities. Conducting Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with hundreds of madrasah students, her research finds that most of them are expecting to live in area where houses of worship are easily accessible, in addition to some criteria of sustainable cities such as interest service, green environments, libraries, freedom of speech, and easy access for disabled people. Despite their coming from Muslim communities, there was no mention about specific house of worship, showing more positive energy and hope as it demonstrates students’ inclusive way of thinking about others.
The workshop on faith and urban resilience was a follow-up to two earlier conferences conducted in Kuala Lumpur (2018) and Abu Dhabi (2020). The workshop was held as a response to the growing concern of sustainable resilience which serves as a platform to facilitate stakeholders, scholars, activists, and faith communities to enhance their understandings and practices of urban living. The two-day workshop offered marvelous input to the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) initiative that is designed collaboratively with UNHI and the International Council on Faiths for Urbanism (ICFU) for public education on faith and urban resilience.
The last event of this international workshop series was the 5th ICISS (International Conference on Interreligious and Intercultural Studies) that was held on October 3, 2020. The conference was themed “Future Cities of the World” and attended by the Minister of Public Works and Housing—Basuki Hadi Muljono—through his representative Hadi Sucahyono who is head of the Regional Infrastructure Development Agency. In his keynote address “Green and Sustainable Infrastructure Development for Future Cities”, Muljono shared his ministry’s experiences in infrastructure development. His remarks concerned challenges and achievements during his leadership and requested more collaborative work with universities and researchers to develop green and sustainable infrastructure. In his closing, he stated that future smart city development must not only providing more reliable infrastructure but also must be green, environmentally friendly, and touch the importance of faith and local wisdom to be incorporated in the development process.
The 5th International Conference on Interreligious and Intercultural Studies gracefully closed a busy academic week of ICRS’ collaborative work with UNHI and ICFU in Denpasar Bali. The collaboration looks forward to the upcoming program of Massive Open Online Course and the 11th World Urban Forum (WUF) in Poland in 2022.