Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs is an interdisciplinary academic center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and is considered a global leader in the study of religion and world affairs. Originally conceived as part of Georgetown's "Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Peace" [] in 2004, the Center serves to advance the interests of interreligious dialogue in the global community. The Berkley Center emerged as an indepedent organization in 2006 under a generous gift from William R. Berkley, a member of Georgetown's Board of Directors. In addition, the Center is a partner in the implementation of a two-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. The Luce/SFS Program on Religion and International Affairs supports a range of teaching, research, and outreach activities on two themes: "Religious Sources of Foreign Policy" and "Religion and Global Development." Today, the center is headed by Thomas Banchoff, Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown.


The Center has made headlines for a number of events, including hosting the controversial Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan for a series of teleconference speeches on Islam-West relations. [Pamela Constable, "Washington Post", April 11, 2007,] Additionally, the center hosts an annual conference on religious pluralism, which has led to the publication of two compilations from Oxford University Press: "Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism" (2007), [] and "Religion and the Global Politics of Human Rights" (forthcoming). []

In addition to hosting live events, the Berkley Center keeps a dynamic homepage that acts as a digital resource on religion and world affairs. One intriguing feature is the Religious Perspectives database, a live matrix which allows users to compare and contrast key scriptural passages across five traditions and five themes and features background explanations written by leading Georgetown professors. Additional databases include the Faith 2008 project, which tracks leading Presidential Candidates and their discourse concerning faith. [] The Religion and Development database monitors the intersection between faith-based organizations and development work. [] The webpage also features a World Events database, which includes conferences, seminars, and other events on the role of religion worldwide that feature text, audio, and/or video. []

The Berkley Center also directs various initiatives engaging Georgetown students on issues relating to the center's mission of studying the interplay of religion and politics. Included among these is the Undergraduate Fellows Program, an annual project engaging some of Georgetown's strongest undergraduate researchers. [] The program's first report, entitled "Secular & Religious Approaches to Global Development: A Common Ground?" was released in December 2006. [] This year's project, entitled "Religious Advocates: A Force in US Politics?" was launched in January, 2007, and features data collected from over 40 prominent religious advocacy organizations in the DC area. [] [Georgetown University Office of Communications, Feb 1, 2008]

Another such program is the Junior Year Abroad Network, a forum through which Georgetown students studying abroad write letters back to the university featuring their observations and analysis of religion and politics from diverse locations around the world. []

The Berkley Center and Georgetown University have also recently partnered with Newsweek/Washington Post on their On Faith project which tracks religious perspectives on a number of issues surrounding faith and public life. [Georgetown University Office of Communications, July 9, 2007,] In July 2007, the Berkley Center partnered with On Faith to provide the Muslims Speak Out Forum, featuring some of the Islamic world's most influential leaders, including Ali Gomaa, Mustafa Ceric, Gus Dur, Mohammad Fadlallah and others. Non-Muslim participants include John Esposito, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Paul Heck, Jon Meacham, and Sally Quinn. [Official News Release on PR Newswire, July 19, 2007,]

Faculty and Fellows

Katherine Marshall, former counselor to World Bank presidents James Wolfensohn and Paul Wolfowitz for issues of ethics, values, and faith, is a senior fellow at the Center, where she conducts research on the role of religion and faith-based organizations in international development. []

Thomas Farr, one of the world's leading experts on the global politics of religious freedom and the first Director of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom, joined the Berkley Center and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service as a Visiting Professor within the Luce/SFS Program on Religion and International Affairs. Farr teaches two courses and organizing a seminar series on the "Religious Sources of Foreign Policy" in the US and around the world.

José Casanova joined Georgetown University as Professor of Sociology and Senior Fellow in the Center in January 2008. Casanova, a leading authority on religion and world affairs, has published widely on sociological theory, migration, and globalization.

Abdolkarim Soroush, one of the world's leading Muslim thinkers and Time magazines 100 most influential people, is a visiting scholar within the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where he will lecture and teach a course on Islamic Political Thought during the spring 2008 semester.

Chester Gillis, the Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies in Georgetown's Department of Theology, joined the Center as the Director of the Program on the Church and Interreligious Dialogue. He is an expert on the U.S. Catholic Church, the history of Catholicism, and the papacy, including Pope Bendedict XVI, his other areas of expertise include interfaith dialogue.

External links

* [ Berkley Center Homepage]
* [ Georgetown/On Faith]


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