Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics

Religions and Public Life

The Religions and Public Life initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics examines the role of religions in history and culture, exploring their interaction across time and geography, as they shape private and public life. 


Inspired by the surprising and powerful return of religion in the 21st century as a force shaping contemporary society, Religions and Public Life is a university-wide interdisciplinary initiative that puts scholars from across campus and multiple disciplines, graduate and undergraduate students, and local and international practitioners in conversation with one another through collaborative research, innovative teaching, and community engagement.

With a focus on creating a space for discussion and scholarly collaboration, we have developed extensive regional, national, and international networks in the pursuit of religious dialogue, research, and education. We support and coordinate research programs addressing religion’s social and historical role, and bring to campus leading scholars and public intellectuals to stimulate debate. We have a particular interest in advancing interreligious dialogue, in examining the accommodation of religious minorities, and in understanding the working of religious diasporas in a globalizing world.

Los Angeles



focus-rel-sci_program-1-300x185FOCUS CLUSTER: SCIENCE & RELIGION IN PUBLIC LIFE

The return of religion to the public sphere has given rise to new local, national, and global politics and led to rethinking of the boundaries of science and religion. In this FOCUS cluster, we explore the new global role of religion, and inquire how it inspires, challenges, and interacts with political and scientific institutions.




18_03_21_rpl_grad_working_group_766x472_previewRELIGIONS AND PUBLIC LIFE GRADUATE STUDENT WORKING GROUP

This student-led interdisciplinary seminar brings together graduate and professional students and postdocs to discuss their works-in-progress on selected themes such as “Minorities and Diasporas” (2017-18) and “Pain and Joy: Polemics and Praise in Religious Communities” (2018-19),  and “Church and State” (2019-20). Students also brainstorm about possible applications of research to current affairs and review grant proposals, enhancing interdisciplinary professional development.

Meet the 2019-2020 RPLI Fellows here.




The International Network for Interreligious Research and Education represents the collaboration of six American, European, and Israeli universities, and a global network of scholars from different disciplines and fields, working on religion. The network holds an annual conference and summer school (Bar-Ilan in 2017, Leipzig in 2018, Groeningen in 2019). Religion is approached from interdisciplinary and multi-confessional perspectives, with a view to promoting religious literacy and encouraging interreligious dialogue among scholars, students, and the public.