It has been said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Yet, evil remains a constant fixture of the human condition, in spite of all of the monuments, memorials, speeches and books designed to keep the ills of the past ever in our thoughts. Knowledge of the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide has not saved the global community from enduring new humanitarian catastrophes, such as those in Syria and Darfur. Geopolitical power struggles resulting in poverty, violence and devastation for affected communities continue to leave a legacy of suffering in many parts of the world. Despite understanding the impact of the Great Depression on the global community, the world’s industrial powers embraced an agenda of deregulation, which precipitated a global financial crisis that devastated individuals, families, businesses, communities and states. The scrutiny aimed at understanding the reasons behind crimes perpetrated by the likes of Ted Kaczynski, Ted Bundy, Mira Hindley and others has not enabled us to prevent horrific acts of violence in our communities. Indeed, the wickedness of men and women continues to leave an enduring mark on life in the 21st century despite our collective awareness of historical evils.
Thus, rather than consider evil in a general or historical context, the 21st Century Evils conference adopts a more concrete, forward-looking perspective to explore questions such as: What does evil look like in the 21st century? How is it different from evil in previous centuries? What are the causes of evil in 21st century? How do globalisation and interconnectedness shape the way evil is perpetrated and experienced? What is the future of evil and our capacity to manage, contain and overcome it? As questions about the nature of evil are often taken up in philosophical, theological, political, sociological, historical and anthropological discussions, this is a fundamentally inter-disciplinary concept. However, the 21st Century Evils conference aims to push those inter-disciplinary boundaries even further by creating a platform for professionals across the disciplinary spectrum to identify the multi-faceted nature of modern evil, assess its causes and effects and, perhaps most importantly, identify the ways in which communities can respond more effectively to evil and human wickedness now and in the future.