April 7, 2016

Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. For over a decade, the center has explored the nexus between religion, ethics, and public life through research, teaching, and service.

Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright delivered the keynote anniversary address on the role of religion in international affairs on April 7. Other anniversary events included a conversation on globalization, religion, and the secular; a symposium on religion and climate change featuring U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz; and panel discussions on radicals, religion, and peace. 

Albright Headlines Anniversary Events

Madeleine Albright, the Michael and Virginia Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy at Georgetown, addressed the role of religion as a source of conflict as well as a resource for cooperation and reconciliation during her remarks in Gaston Hall.

She drew on her extensive experience as a leading diplomat and scholar and revisited the core themes of her book, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs (Harper, 2006).

“Issues of religion and world affairs are as salient today as in 2006 when the center was founded,” said Thomas Banchoff, vice president for global engagement and founding director of the Berkley Center at the event. “The tenth anniversary of the Berkley Center is an occasion to discuss these issues, to celebrate a record of accomplishment, and to reflect on the work ahead.” 

Tenth Anniversary Events

A symposium on “Rethinking Religion and World Affairs” continued the anniversary celebration on April 8. The symposium featured professors from Georgetown, the University of Chicago, Yale Divinity School, and Harvard University, and practitioners from the Washington Post, the State Department, and the House of Lords.

The thought leaders and practitioners, including leading Abrahamic religions expert Karen Armstrong, engaged in discussions about the current state of interfaith dialogue and the changing relationship between religion, violence, and peace in today’s world. Recent events, from Paris to Istanbul to Brussels, helped to shape the discussion. 

A Response to September 11, 2001

The tragic events of September 11 provided the impetus for the establishment of the Berkley Center. The terrorist attacks proved that religion, once thought to be an archaic domain of academia, plays a major role in world affairs and ought to be studied by leading universities. The Berkley Center’s projects since its founding in 2006 reflect Georgetown’s commitment to furthering understanding of the connections between religion, ethics, and public life.

In recent years, the Berkley Center has launched projects on Islam, women, and the persecution of Christian minorities. The center’s Religious Freedom Project convenes a team of international scholars who analyze religious freedom around the world, and its religion and global development program researches the engagement of global religious communities with different public policy issues to determine best practices.

With the addition of the religion, ethics, and world affairs certificate, the center has engaged a new group of Georgetown students who participate firsthand in the center’s work.

The Berkley Center’s work over the past decade has demonstrated its strong commitment to many themes, including interreligious dialogue, religion and development, and religious violence, and has situated it as a leader in the global discussion on religion, ethics, and peace.