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Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life


The Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life is an inter-disciplinary center for analysis, reflection, and response to historical and contemporary religious issues.

The resurgence of religion has led to the emergence of powerful forces in the new century, as religious and cultural intolerance and conflict become defining features of our world. In order to address this unexpected and rapidly changing situation, the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life brings together scholars and students in religion, cultural anthropology, history, political science, economics, social psychology and other allied fields to sustain multi-disciplinary analysis, reflection and response to historical and contemporary issues that are of great significance.

Founded in 2008, the Institute also engages political and economic figures and policy practitioners, as well as religious and cultural leaders, in its programs. The scope of the Institute encompasses a broad range of phenomena, but also focuses on questions relating to the role of difference, identity, and practice within larger national and international contexts. While seeking to understand the bases of conflict and unrest, it examines traditions, practices and historical examples that demonstrate the potential for understanding, tolerance and ecumenical values within religious traditions, as well as patterns of social institutions that may facilitate coexistence and mutual support.

By taking an expansive rather than a restricted view of religious thought and practice, the Institute recasts the traditional opposition between the secular and the religious in ways that promote innovative approaches to familiar problems.


  • Professor of International and Public Affairs, Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights
  • Professor of Sociology
  • Professor of French and Romance Philology, Chair, Department of French and Romance Philology
  • Leitner Family Professor of African Studies, Director, Institute of African Studies
  • Wallace C. Sayre Professor Emeritus of Government, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of International and Public Affairs