Religion in International Affairs

Religion in International Affairs

Program Update

As of January 2021, the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs is no longer accepting unsolicited inquiries. We encourage applicants interested in the topic of religion in global perspective to consult the grantmaking guidelines of the Luce Foundation’s Religion and Theology Program.

Program Aims

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 has supported projects that draw on scholarly expertise to foster and disseminate more nuanced, contextualized and dynamic understandings of religion in global public life, politics and policy. Projects have 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.

Since 2005, the initiative has awarded more than 200 grants, totaling $58 million, to academic, public policy and media organizations. It has 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 have 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 has 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 have 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 have reached beyond the organizations where they are based to engage with scholars, public intellectuals, journalists and other relevant partners, both in the U.S. and abroad.

The initiative’s grantmaking will conclude in 2021. In 2022, we plan to launch a new digital platform that will highlight the work of our grantees and make resources available to a broader community, while serving as a hub and catalyst for fresh thinking and conversations about the role of religion in international affairs.

Recent Grants

Whose Revolution? Re-assessing the impact of the 1979 Iranian Revolution on Sunni Islamism
London School of Economics and Political Science|London, London, United Kingdom
2020Religion in International Affairs$50,000 View Grant Details Icon - Link Out
Support for a project on new approaches to Iran that would advance peace, stability and civil liberties.
Campaign for Human Rights, Inc.|Brooklyn, New York, United States
2020Religion in International Affairs$75,000 View Grant Details Icon - Link Out
For the project, “Local Ecologies of Migrant Care: Rapid Response to COVID-19."
Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics, New York University|New York, New York, United States
2020Religion in International Affairs$150,000 View Grant Details Icon - Link Out
For the project, “The Umma in the time of Corona: Exploring Muslim Responses to the 2020 Global Pandemic.”
Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University|Houston, Texas, United States
2020Religion in International Affairs$90,000 View Grant Details Icon - Link Out
Digital Dignity: A Multimedia Project on Religious Politics in the Digital Age
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU München)|München, Germany
2020Religion in International Affairs$50,000 View Grant Details Icon - Link Out
See All Religion in International Affairs Grants

Program Administrators

Director of Policy Initiatives: Dr. Toby Alice Volkman
Prior 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.
Program Assistant: Ms. Devin Denny

Prior to joining the Luce Foundation, Devin was a grant writer and fundraiser for human and social services for New York City’s performing arts and entertainment community. Devin holds a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in Religion, Politics and Ethics, and earned her Bachelors of Arts with Honors from the University of Rochester, with a double major in European History and Comparative Religion.

Image: Mount Kailash with prayer flags. Photo © Chris Radcliffe
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