The Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs (HRLI) is no longer accepting unsolicited inquiries. Applicants interested in the topic of religion in global perspective are encouraged to consult the grantmaking guidelines of the Luce Foundation’s Religion and Theology Program, whose work builds on the efforts of this initative and on the Luce Foundation's longstanding Theology Program.
The HRLI came to a close in 2021 after 16 years and more than $60 million in grantmaking. Toby Volkman, Director of Policy Initiatives, shared her thoughts on how this work helped to transform the conversation around religion in world affairs and how the study of religion in global matters has shifted since the first grants were awarded in 2005.
The Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs was launched in June 2005 to provide intellectual leadership, develop new paradigms for research and teaching, create new resources and networks, and enhance public understanding of and discussion about religion in the international sphere.
Since its inception, the initiative supported projects that drew on scholarly expertise to foster and disseminate more nuanced, contextualized and dynamic understandings of religion in global public life, politics and policy. Projects explored the role of religion in domains including conflict and peace-building, environment and sustainability, political economy and development, geopolitics, health and education, gender, race and sexuality, law and human rights, social movements, migration and humanitarianism.
The initiative awarded 223 grants, totaling more than $60 million, to academic, public policy and media organizations. It fostered collaborations across these sectors and encouraged the development of sustainable conversations and relationships between colleagues and institutional partners in many parts of the world.
At universities, such efforts involved work across disciplines and programs, bringing together faculty and graduate students in fields such as international relations, anthropology, religious studies, politics, rhetoric and communication, journalism, and area studies.
The initiative also supported collaborative efforts linking scholarship, journalism, and a variety of media platforms, as the media is often a bridge between the university and the policy world. Other grants sought to deepen understanding of how the media and new digital technologies are shaping both religious practices and knowledge about religion and politics.
Policy-focused projects typically reached beyond the organizations where they were based to engage with scholars, public intellectuals, journalists and other relevant partners, both in the U.S. and abroad.