The Alliance of Civilizations initiative was launched by the Secretary-General and co-sponsored by the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey in response to the increased need for a committed international effort to bridge divides between societies exploited by extremists and to "overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions and polarization."
"John Esposito is a scholar committed to improving cross-cultural and interreligious understanding," said Robert Gallucci, dean of the School of Foreign Service. "I congratulate him on this appointment and know his expertise will ably inform the group's work."
As a member of the group, Esposito will work to develop practical recommendations emphasizing mutual understanding and respect between cultures, establishing support for moderate agendas, creating international partnerships to counter cultural misperceptions and promote intercultural cooperation, and establishing a defined mechanism for reducing antagonism and misunderstanding between the Arab/Islamic and Western worlds.
Additional members of the High-Level Group include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine, author Karen Armstrong, former President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Khatami and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned of Qatar.
Esposito joined the faculty at Georgetown in 1993, the same year he founded the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. He is currently editor-in-chief of the four-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, The Oxford History of Islam, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, and The Islamic World: Past and Present.
In addition, Esposito has authored more than 35 books, most recently Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk (with Susan Hitchcock), What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, and the fourth edition of Islam: The Straight Path. He was recently named editor-in-chief of the six-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World and the Oxford Online Center for the Islamic World. At Georgetown, Esposito teaches classes on Islam and Politics, Islam and the West, Women in Islam, Islam and Global Terrorism and Religion in International Affairs.