Global Politics and Religion Research Group

Talking ‘Religion’: Publics, Politics and the Media

Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs

How can scholars and journalists doing cutting-edge work on religion, politics and public life communicate their findings to, and learn from, each other?

How can they communicate their work and its insights to a variety of public audiences in a way that is accessible and appealing without sacrificing nuance and complexity? 

“Talking ‘Religion’: Publics, Politics and the Media” provides scholars of religion and politics with new avenues for publicizing their work and journalists with new ways of understanding and conceptualizing religion in their reporting. The project brings together innovative thinkers in search of creative responses to the challenges of socially and religiously diverse worlds.

Guiding questions include:

  1. Which conceptual vocabularies allow scholars and journalists to access the complex interstices of global religious, legal, governmental, and economic practices at a historical moment in which constructs such as “secularism,” “modernity,” and “religious freedom” appear to have exhausted themselves?
  2. What does an integrative approach to the study of religion and other facets of law, history, and foreign policy look like?
  3. What are the optimal avenues for social scientists, humanists and journalists to work together to improve public understanding of such issues by moving public discourse beyond the naïve celebration of religion as the source of morality, community, and freedom, and the denigration of religion as the root of all global instability?
  4. How can these possibilities be articulated clearly and communicated effectively to a larger public audience beyond the academy?

The project will host a workshop on “talking religion,” a master class on religion and the media, visiting speakers, a team-taught undergraduate course, and graduate religion and media fellowships. These activities will build on our active interdisciplinary Buffett Faculty Research Group on Global Politics and Religion.

Global Politics and Religion hosts symposia, lecture series, book workshops and other events centered on the interdisciplinary intersections in the study of religion, law and public life. “Talking ‘Religion’” will amplify these connections and create new ones that will impact Northwestern and the Chicago community at a critical juncture in our nation’s public life.

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and Brannon Ingram, co-organizers


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