Religion & International Affairs
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Selected Project Profiles

The Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs, announced in June 2005, seeks to deepen understanding of religion as a critical dimension of national and international policies and politics.

Religion is an increasingly visible cultural, political, and economic force in societies around the globe. Yet our resources are inadequate for understanding its new forms and expressions, and its complex roles in public life and policy. In the academy, for example, knowledge about religion is unevenly distributed across disciplines. Scholarly expertise is rarely linked to communities of policy-makers and practitioners, or to media that inform discussion and debate in the public square.

One part of the Henry R. Luce Initiative provides support for programs at professional schools of international affairs in the United States. The aim is to prepare the next generation of policy specialists who will assume positions in fields such as diplomacy, development, relief work, human rights, and journalism, with a better understanding of the role of religion. Efforts supported by these grants typically create links across disciplines and programs, through a variety of activities that bring together faculty and students in fields such as international relations, anthropology, religion, and area studies. Many of these projects also develop innovative approaches to engaging with particular policy communities.

Other grants build on existing or emerging efforts at U.S. universities, public policy institutions, and the media, to strengthen or create new programs, to focus on particular issues, or to amplify synergies among those working at the intersection of religion and international affairs.

The initiative invites proposals from academic as well as policy or media institutions that work to deepen interdisciplinary understanding of the role of religion in world affairs, and to link this knowledge to a range of policy issues, communities, and wider publics. Grant-making will continue to focus on institutions in the United States, but the initiative encourages proposals that seek to develop sustainable conversations and relationships with colleagues and institutional partners in many parts of the world.

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Director of Policy Initiatives: Dr. Toby Alice VolkmanPrior to joining the Luce Foundation, Toby worked as Director of Special Projects at the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program in New York. She has also served as a program officer at the Ford Foundation, where she developed and managed an initiative (“Crossing Borders”) to revitalize the field of area studies; as director of the South and Southeast Asia Programs at the Social Science Research Council; and as deputy provost at the New School. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Chicago.

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Jaweed Kaleem, religion reporter for The Huffington Post, with Varinder Singh, at a Sikh temple in Lahore, Pakistan. Kaleem's trip was made possible by a Henry R. Luce Initiative grant to the International Center for Journalists.