Tonight, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs will think both globally and locally as several worthy, worldly honorees accept Public Leadership Awards (see the commentary on the opposite page by two of the recipients).

Presiding will be Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School. He’d be the first to say the event is not about him, but he’s been honored in his own right: President Obama has appointed him to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, described as “an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission … dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.”

Throughout his diplomatic and academic career, Schwartz has witnessed worldwide the role that faith and religious freedom plays in societies.

The commission can be “a valuable advocate for the principles of tolerance of respect for freedom of religion, freedom of expression [and] freedom of association relating to the practice of faith,” Schwartz said in an interview.

It can play its role, he added, “both within the U.S. government in terms of our diplomacy [and] with governments overseas. It can serve as a useful ally to individuals and institutions around the world working to promote these principles of religious tolerance. And to the extent that I can promote a useful role, I’m excited by the opportunity.”

----------

John Rash is a Star Tribune editorial writer.