Campus & Community

Kennedy School launches Initiative on Religion with Luce Foundation grant

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Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has announced a new academic research program, the Initiative on Religion in International Affairs. The interdisciplinary initiative, based at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, will be directed by Monica Duffy Toft, associate professor of public policy, and J. Bryan Hehir, Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life. The new program is supported with a $400,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

The new initiative is devoted to examining the substantive policy issues relevant to the role of religion in international affairs, including peace and war. The two-year grant will fund the program’s initial development and research endeavors that will engage resources and students across Harvard University, including at the Kennedy School, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and Harvard Divinity School.

“Working alongside their colleagues from across the university, scholars and students at the Kennedy School will have the opportunity with this new program to examine how faith affects policy and vice versa,” said Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood. “This grant comes as wonderful news to those of us who seek new answers to the many questions surrounding religion and international affairs.”

“Recent events demonstrate the powerful impact of religion on modern society and particularly on global events,” said Toft. “It is our intention to study this phenomenon in great depth in the coming years and to educate our students on such important matters.”

Toft focuses her research on international relations, nationalism and ethnic war, and religion and large-scale violence. She is the author of two books, “The Geography of Ethnic Violence: Identity, Interests, and Territory” and “The Fog of Peace and War Planning,” and is finishing a third on civil war termination, “Peace Through Victory: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars.” Her research on religion in global politics includes a number of scholarly articles, and she is currently editing a volume on religion and international affairs and is writing two books on the topic.

Hehir teaches courses on religion, ethics, and public policy at the Kennedy School. His research and writing focus on ethics and foreign policy, and the role of religion in world politics and in American society. His writings include “The Moral Measurement of War: A Tradition of Continuity”; “Change, Military Intervention and National Sovereignty”; “Catholicism and Democracy”; and “Social Values and Public Policy: A Contribution from a Religious Tradition.” Hehir is also the secretary for social services and the president of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Boston.