April 10, 2012
Henry Luce Foundation Grant to the University of Denver to Advance Understanding of Religion and Social Cohesion in Conflict-Affected Countries
(Denver, CO) –– Dean Christopher Hill of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver announced today that the School’s Center for Sustainable Development and International Peace has been awarded a $400,000 grant by the Henry Luce Foundation.
The award allows the Center to conduct a two-year research and policy-dialogue initiative that will advance understanding of the impact of religion on development and peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries around the world.
“We know that religious leaders and organizations matter for peace and development, but we often don’t know how best to use aid programs to effectively engage them,” Hill said. “This award from the Luce Foundation will enable our world-class research faculty to generate new insights on the vexed questions of working with religious leaders and communities abroad.”
With the international development agenda increasingly focused on aid effectiveness in conflict-affected, or “fragile,” states, the aid community has learned that they must include and work more effectively with faith-based organizations and religious leaders in order to build trust across religious and sectarian differences. The project explores how aid can help foster “social cohesion” in countries where conflict along identity lines threatens peace and inhibits development.
Working with religious leaders and organizations, however, has been problematic: religious leaders may hold views and advocate practices contrary to international human rights such as the rights of women. Thus, the aim of the project is to identify how development and peace practitioners manage the dilemmas or working with religious leaders and organizations in pursuit of more sustainable development in countries emerging from war. The project will bring together international scholars to conduct research, and present policy relevant findings that are relevant to donors and policy makers working in complex post-conflict contexts, including Iraq, Nigeria, and Nepal.
The project will be carried out by Korbel School doctoral candidate Fletcher Cox and professor and Center director Timothy D. Sisk. Hill noted that the Korbel project is part of the Luce Foundation's Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs that seeks to deepen American understanding of religion as a critical –– but often neglected –– factor in international policy issues. It supports projects at U.S. institutions in the academic, public policy, and media sectors to, “deepen interdisciplinary understanding of the role of religion in world affairs, and to link this knowledge to a range of policy issues, communities, and wider publics.”
The recent award to the Korbel School is the second major grant from the Luce Foundation. “We are very grateful to the Foundation’s investment in our faculty and in our policy-relevant research,” Hill concluded.