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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965

Special Spotlight Insert

UNM-Gallup couple heals cultural divides

By Linda Thornton

Anthony and Maggie MansuetoMuch of Anthony Mansueto’s professional life as a writer and professor has been devoted to understanding the tensions that result when different cultures meet, as well as the questions about values that are a product of those interactions.

During the last decade, his interests have evolved beyond his work as an assistant professor of philosophy, religious studies and history at UNM-Gallup, into several international projects designed “to combat the nihilism, despair and injustice of our times,” he says.

These projects, organized through an independent nonprofit research, education and organizing institute called Seeking Wisdom, have led Mansueto and his wife and colleague Maggie to build a network of like-minded individuals from around the world.

They look at what the Mansuetos call the “human civilization index” rather than World Bank or United Nations criteria such as GNP, literacy or basic health care. They assess political participation and pluralism, the integrity of the social fabric as reflected in crime rates, divorce rates and cultural creativity—which includes enrollment in higher education, research and development spending, scientists and engineers per capita, percentage of people in humanities programs—in an effort to assess how a society is developing. The index helps determine the impact of capitalist globalization on human development.

Seeking Wisdom provides research support to the Brussels-based World Forum for Alternatives, an alliance of research institutes and social movements worldwide seeking alternatives to capitalist globalization, particularly in the Third World.

It might surprise some to learn that he considers Gallup a perfectly appropriate base for their international work.

“The Diné (Navajo) and Zuni are by right independent nations, and this college is an international campus. Ideally, it should be a place where dialogue among civilizations can occur, and where religious leaders come together from around the world to hammer out the destiny of humanity,” he said.

Because of Gallup’s position on an interstate highway, and its location as a place where many different cultures intersect – Arab traders and Slavic and Italian immigrants as well as The Diné, the Zuni, and Mexican Americans – the Mansuetos view it as a natural meeting ground for international dialogue. They established the Gallup Inter-Religious Dialogue Project, which has presented representatives of various religious traditions, discussing meaning and value.

“People come to Gallup to make money, but the complex cultural interactions which result create a unique opportunity for dialogue regarding fundamental questions,” Mansueto said. Because of the participation of Diné and Zuni leaders, this project is also beginning to attract some international attention.

Mansueto holds a Ph.D. in religion and society from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He is the author of “Knowing God: Restoring Reason in an Age of Doubt,” which was published last year by Ashgate, and other books.

Maggie Mansueto, an adjunct at UNM-G, holds a bachelor's in history from the University of Dallas, and has done graduate work in theology, canon law and human development at the University of Dallas, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, and Northwestern Univ.

The Mansuetos also publish a journal, “Seeking Wisdom,” which can be viewed at www.geocities.com/diacosmos.