Seven faculty members from the UST Institute of Religion and the Center for Theology, Religious Studies, and Ethics presented papers at the 14th International Roundtable of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communication based at St. John’s University, Bangkok, Thailand. With the theme “Religious Communication and the Technological Future: Prospects, Concerns, and Responses”, this year’s meeting was held from November 2 to 3, 2023 at the East Asian Institute in Thammasat University as part of the International Conference on Inter-Asia and Challenges.
Bryan Albia, Mariel Blanza, and Andrew Joseph Chanco co-authored an article titled “From Icons to AI: Evolution of Imagery in Religious Communication.” The paper presents the evolution of religious icons in various world religions throughout history and inquires whether AI-generated icons made possible today by generative AI tools are suitable for use in sacred functions and other forms of religious communication.
Meanwhile, Leo-Martin Angelo Ocampo and Ivan Efreaim Gozum explored AI’s implications on religious education in their paper, “AI in the Academe: Opportunities and Challenges for Religious Education.” In response to questions and concerns raised by ChatGPT and other AI applications, their study looks into the interface of AI and how it can be maximized for its educational use without ignoring the dangers. It likewise highlights the unique contributions of religious educators to AI using the wisdom and practices of their respective religious traditions while bearing in mind AI Ethics.
Lastly, Fred Antonio and Center for Campus Ministry Director, Maria Lourdes Santiago-Antonio presented their paper, “Catholic Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs): Communicators of Truth for a Rehumanized Education Toward Industrial Revolution 5.0.” Their article explores the evolving mission of Catholic HEIs in today’s shifting societal landscape, calling for a humanistic approach to communicating truth and a friendship model in accompanying young people.
The annual roundtable, which gathers religious leaders and scholars of various religions in Asia, was pioneered by the late Thomasian educator, Fr. Franz-Josef Eilers, SVD who also established the Social-Pastoral Communication Program in the UST Graduate School.