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FAQ

1. What is the Global Centre for Pluralism?
2. What does the Global Centre for Pluralism do?
3. Is the Global Centre for Pluralism a think tank?
4. Why is the Global Centre for Pluralism located in Canada?
5. Will the Centre export Canadian pluralism to other countries?
6. How is the Centre funded?
7. Is the Centre a registered Canadian charity?
8. How is the Centre governed?
9. Who is His Highness the Aga Khan? What is his role in the Centre?
10. Is the Centre a religious initiative?
11. Where is the Centre located? Can I take a tour?
12. How will the Centre use the federal heritage building at 330 Sussex Drive?
13. How do I apply for a job at the Global Centre for Pluralism?
14. What are the Centre's current areas of focus?


1. What is the Global Centre for Pluralism?

The Global Centre for Pluralism is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan. Founded in partnership with the Government of Canada and working with other partners, the Centre seeks to advance respect for diversity as a global ethic and practice rooted in local experiences and fostered through knowledge exchange. The aim of pluralism – defined simply as respect for diversity and the practices associated with achieving this end – is to ensure that every person, irrespective of ethnocultural differences, is able to realize his or her full potential as a citizen. As a global destination for dialogue, the Centre undertakes and shares applied research about the specific choices that each society must make to foster respect for diversity.


2. What does the Global Centre for Pluralism do?

The Global Centre for Pluralism works to help societies build inclusive civic cultures that recognize and value diversity as a public good. Almost every society is diverse in some way, either through historic boundary making or global migration. But the existence of diversity is contentious in many places. Some lack the means to manage competition and conflict in peaceful ways. Others struggle to integrate newcomers and encourage positive attitudes toward minorities. The result in both cases is exclusion, insecurity and fear. The Centre addresses these challenges by encouraging global knowledge exchange about living peaceably with diversity. Through research, education and dialogue with partners around the world, we inspire and equip leaders for pluralism.


3. Is the Global Centre for Pluralism a think tank?

No. The Global Centre for Pluralism is not a think tank, advocacy organization, grant-making institution or government agency. It is a knowledge partner that works with individuals, governments and civil societies to foster leadership for pluralism. As an originator and convenor of global learning, the Centre gathers and links knowledge to practices that enable societies to address diversity in constructive ways.


4. Why is the Global Centre for Pluralism located in Canada?

The Global Centre for Pluralism has been founded in collaboration with the Government of Canada. Canada is one of the world’s most diverse societies, formed through centuries of interaction between settlers, immigrants and indigenous First Nations. The example of Canada is a source of inspiration in a world where diversity is often associated with fragmentation. Canadian pluralism is the product of decision and investment by institutions and individual citizens. It is a living commitment to inclusion supported by laws, institutions, policies and practices that enable respect for diversity through compromise and shared citizenship. Although not without problems, the Canadian experience shows what can be accomplished when human diversity is recognized and valued as a source of common good.


5. Will the Centre export Canadian pluralism to other countries?

No. The Canadian experience offers important lessons about living with diversity, but it is not a “model” that can be exported to other countries. Context matters. Every society is diverse in its own way and has its own historical experience. Lessons from emerging from different societies can provide insight and inspiration, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to pluralism. Over time, the Centre will develop comparative insights into the factors that unite or divide diverse societies.


6. How is the Centre funded?

The Centre begins work with a $40 million endowment fund jointly established by the Government of Canada and His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan will also contribute at least $20 million to refurbish the Canadian federal heritage building at 330 Sussex Drive as the Centre’s global headquarters. In time, the Centre will expand its core funding through additional partnerships.


7. Is the Global Centre for Pluralism a registered charity?

The Global Centre for Pluralism is a registered Canadian charity. It is eligible to receive donations from individuals and issue tax receipts. The Centre’s charitable registration number is 85780 2409 RR0001.


8. How is the Centre governed?

The Centre is governed by an international Board of Directors chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The Board is appointed by the Members of the Corporation – a supervisory body composed of representatives of the Aga Khan Development Network, the Government of Canada and Canadian civil society – which also annually appoints the Centre’s auditors. The Board is accountable to the founding partners for the operation of the Centre.


9. Who is His Highness the Aga Khan? What is his role in the Centre?

His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of non-denominational development agencies with mandates that include the environment, health, education, architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalization of historic cities. The Aga Khan is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism.


10. Is the Centre a religious initiative?

No. His Highness the Aga Khan is a spiritual leader and the Government of Canada is strongly committed to religious freedom, but the Centre’s mandate is wider in scope. Pluralism encompasses respect for diversity broadly defined. Religious belief is a source of human diversity and religion can drive both cooperation and conflict.


11. Where is the Centre located? Can I take a tour?

In September 2011, the Global Centre for Pluralism opened a temporary office in the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat at 199 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. The Centre will remain at this location until its own building at 330 Sussex Drive has been renovated. The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat also houses the offices of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, which operates a Visitor Program that includes tours of the facility. Please visit www.akfc.ca for more information.


12. How will the Centre use the federal heritage building at 330 Sussex Drive?

The Global Centre for Pluralism has leased the Canadian federal heritage building at 330 Sussex Drive from the Government of Canada. This building will house the Centre and serve the world community as a global destination for dialogue about pluralism. Built in the Beaux-Arts style between 1905 and 1925, the building previously housed the Dominion Archives of Canada and the Canadian War Museum. The building has been vacant for several years and requires extensive renovation and rehabilitation. A multi-year project, the rehabilitation effort will focus on renewing the site while honouring the heritage elements of the building.


13. How do I apply for a job at the Global Centre for Pluralism?

Interested candidates can forward their particulars to the Global Centre for Pluralism using the Contact Us page.


14. What are the Centre's current areas of focus?

The Centre is working to become a global leader for pluralism. Through events, research and partnerships, the Centre will facilitate dialogue about factors that drive or present barriers to pluralism. The Centre is currently focusing on Kenya and Kyrgyzstan, two societies that have recently experienced upheavals and processes of constitutional reform. Over time, the Centre will expand its focus to other countries and offer its permanent facilities as a destination for global dialogue and learning.

 

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