Program Aims

The Luce Foundation’s Theology program aims to advance understanding of religion and theology. Through grants to seminaries, divinity schools, and research universities, the program supports the work of scholars, cultivates the next generation of leaders, and promotes public engagement.

The program supports projects whose engagements extend into a variety of settings—from religious communities and academic fields to activist networks and media venues. Emphasis is placed on projects that cross religious, disciplinary, and geographic borders, and on scholarship that is theoretically sophisticated, historically informed, critically reflexive, and practically invested.

Particular attention is given to work that rethinks what theology is and reimagines its contemporary significance; to research that creatively examines received assumptions about religion, secularity, and public culture; and to projects located at the intersections of theological inquiry and the multidisciplinary study of religion.

Responding to the diverse sector of North American institutions dedicated to graduate and professional education in theology and religion, the program provides support for seminaries and divinity schools, research universities and university-based centers, and a limited number of museums and independent media organizations.

Program History

The Luce Foundation has included religion and theology among its core interests from its inception. When Henry R. Luce established the foundation in 1936, he honored the work of his parents, Presbyterian missionary educators in China, and in its initial decades more than one-third of the foundation’s grants were related to ethics and theology. Regular grantees in those years included graduate theological schools of special significance to the Luce family: Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School, and others.

Recent Grants

For “Democracy and Public Theology,” a project at the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion
University of California, Berkeley|Berkeley, California, United States
To support an international cooperation initiative in conjunction with SBL's 2020 annual meeting
Society of Biblical Literature|Atlanta, Georgia, United States
To support “The Art, Politics, and Publics of Black Faith”
Columbia University|New York, New York, United States
To support “PsalmSeason: An Online Encounter with the Wisdom of the Psalms”
Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership at Hebrew College|Newton Centre, Massachusetts, United States
To support “Future Humans, Human Futures,” a project on religion, ethics, and technology at the Center for Humanities
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University|Blacksburg, Virginia, United States
See All Theology Grants

Program Administrators

Program Director: Dr. Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Prior to joining the Foundation, Jonathan was the founding director of the religion and the public sphere program at the Social Science Research Council, where he developed and directed a range of grant-funded projects, launched a suite of experimental digital publishing platforms, served as acting director of communications, and worked to incubate a new initiative on knowledge and culture in a digital age. Jonathan is co-editor of a series of books on secularism and religion, including Habermas and Religion (Polity), Rethinking Secularism (Oxford), The Post-Secular in Question (NYU), The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (Columbia), and Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age (Harvard). Originally trained as a philosopher, he received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

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: RIOTcon, the biennial conference hosted by the InterReligious Institute (IRI) at Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). © Chicago Theological Seminary
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Recent News and Announcements

See All Theology News
Dec. 1, 2020
Advancing Public Knowledge on Race, Justice, and Religion in America
Nov. 19, 2020
Student Journalists Highlight COVID-19’s Impact on Marginalized Communities
Responding to Covid-19, Theology
Nov. 9, 2020
PsalmSeason: A Project for a Time of Upheaval
Responding to Covid-19, Theology