Alumnus Josef Konvitz to give talk on trends in tolerance

Historian and Cornell alumnus Josef Konvitz ‘67 will explore and compare trends in tolerance in France and the United States in a digital talk on March 15 at 5:30 p.m. EST. Registration is required.

Konvitz, a former professor at Michigan State University and diplomat with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, will focus on questions of interfaith relations and public leadership that transcend national borders. While Americans see France as a country with a high level of anti-Semitism, the French are disturbed by the influence of religion on American policy, Konvitz said.

“A majority of the French do not belong to any religion; in the United States, the number of the ‘nones’ is much lower, at 16%. These phenomena have made France more tolerant, as borne out by surveys since 2000, but have had the opposite effect in the United States, contributing to polarization, segregation and extremism,” Konvitz said.

“Konvitz brings to the topic insights drawn from his academic research and his experience as a diplomat,” says Deborah Starr, director of the Jewish Studies Program. “The United States has seen a rise in overt anti-Semitism in recent years. It is important for Jewish Studies to feature the work of scholars who can shed light on this phenomenon. Konvitz’s research helps put this U.S. trend in a comparative perspective.”

Konvitz is an historian, an authority on urban and economic governance and a former diplomat. He graduated with honors from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1967 and earned a PhD from Princeton University in 1973.

He is the author of “Cities and Crisis” (Manchester University Press, 2016) and is currently writing a study of the search for security by Jews in France and the United States since the early 20th Century.

This talk is sponsored by the Cornell University Jewish Studies Program. More information can be found on the Jewish studies website.

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