Blair seminar seeking applicants

The online application to “Faith and Globalization,” a fall 2009 seminar that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair taught for the first time last term, opens to all students Wednesday.

The application itself has not changed, but Miroslav Volf, who teaches the class with Blair, said the class’s focus will shift slightly this year to analyze issues of faith and globalization in areas of the world that were not emphasized in last fall’s seminar.

The seminar’s makeup will not change either: six Yale College students, six students each from the Divinity School and the School of Management, and seven students from other schools in the University will be admitted.

But — unlike in 2008 — incoming freshmen will not be able to apply, said Neil Arner DIV ’07, a research assistant for the seminar.

Arner explained that the May 1 application deadline, which falls on the same day members of the class of 2013 must file matriculation cards, makes it impossible for incoming freshmen to access the online application system.

Last year, Arner said, about 250 of the about 400 applicants for the 25-person seminar were from Yale College.

Volf, a professor at the Divinity School, said the focus of the course will shift this year in order to cover the topic of faith and globalization more extensively.

“We will put less emphasis on Europe this time and more on Africa,” Volf said. “It’s a course on faith and globalization, so we need to address the whole world.”

Two more class topics will also be added to the current repertoire: one entitled “Faith and the Alleviation of Poverty” and one called “Globalization and Gender.”

Mark Longhurst ’09, who took Blair’s seminar in the fall, said the session on poverty would be a “useful addition to the course.” That session could add to the course’s overarching theme of “the potential for faith to promote peace and economic development,” Longhurst said.

And — in what may be the most appealing tweak to the course — Volf said students in next term’s seminar can expect a slightly lighter workload.

“We’re going to redo a bit of the reading,” Volf said. “It was a bit more than students could handle.”

Blair will attend five of the seminar’s 14 sessions next fall, the same number he went to in 2008.

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