Interest in religion has never been as high as it is today; its presence in public conversation and in policy circles is unprecedented. There is intense debate over the role of religion and how it promotes – and impedes – the common good.
At the same time developments in scholarship about religion produce fresh insights in ways that can sharpen and deepen the broader discussions. However, such insights have not always gone beyond the academy’s walls.
It is our mission to change that. We are committed to engage with a wide range of voices, including policy-makers, government officials, journalists, religious leaders and others.
We bring scholars together to collaborate from across disciplines, recognizing that while religious studies and theological enquiry have much to offer in particular, scholars in other fields are actively engaging with religion and bringing new perspectives and approaches to the broader conversation about faith and public life.
Our initiative focuses on public engagement and academic research. Our goal is to develop a programmatic vision of how the study of religion might advance in the coming years both in terms of academic rigor and of increased relevance to matters of public concern.
We recognize that;
- Religious studies scholars no longer take dense philosophical tomes or texts to be the exclusive, primary sources of study. Instead, there is a new energy around the study of religious life, as lived by those who practice it.
- Scholars of religion have opened up the space to a plurality of methods. While many continue to carry out useful historical and textual work, more normative and theological approaches are also seen as legitimate within religious studies.
- There are new avenues for comparative work. Writers are exploring affinities among different religions and their central figures, on concepts that are shared globally. Scholars ask, for example, how concepts like human dignity, moral formation, and the environment, are shared by adherents of different religious traditions, in different parts of the world.
We write, speak, hold workshops, seminars, and public conferences in order to integrate various lines of enquiry, and to engage wider publics in attempts to understand religion in the contemporary world.