Award-winning author talk a part of NU's Vincentian Heritage Week

Sep. 27—Ahmet Kuru, director of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies and professor of political science at San Diego State University, will address the problems of authoritarianism and underdevelopment faced in many Muslim-majority countries during a lecture at noon on Thursday in Niagara University's Gallagher Center. The event is open to the public.

"Historical Golden Age and Contemporary Underdevelopment in the Muslim World," is organized by Niagara's Middle Eastern and Islamic studies program and sponsored by the Academic Innovation Fund and the Niagara Vincentian Center for Justice.

Referring to his award-winning book, "Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment: A Global and Historical Comparison," Kuru will explain how Muslims achieved a golden age of philosophy and economy between the eighth and 11th centuries, and the ways in which the alliance between religious and political authorities, or the ulema-state alliance, has hindered democracy and development in the contemporary Muslim world. He will also provide some recommendations for solving these problems.

Kuru is also the author of "Secularism and State Policies toward Religion: The United States, France, and Turkey."

The discussion is presented as part of the university's Vincentian Heritage Week activities, an annual observation of NU's rich history of education and service in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, a 17th century Catholic priest who inspired and organized his contemporaries to serve the less fortunate. This year's event runs through Saturday.

Also taking place Thursday is the Vincentian Convocation from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Alumni Chapel.

Several individuals will be honored for their extraordinary contributions in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul:

—St. Louise de Marillac Award — Esmeralda Sierra, president of the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY and member of Catholic Charities of Buffalo Board of Trustees

—Frédéric Ozanam Medal — John Belcastro, principal, Alternative and Continuing Education, Niagara Catholic District School Board

—Honorary Doctoral Degree of Pedagogy — Rev. Gilbert Walker, C.M., Coordinator of the Vincentian Popular Mission Team and Provincial Council, Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission

—Vincentian Mission Award — Stefanie Wichhart, history professor, Niagara University

—Perboyre Medal — Caroline Lebron, Master of Sciences in Criminal Justice Administration, Niagara University