Religion and Global Affairs Concentration

Keough School Of Global Affairs

Religious literacy is a must for future policymakers, and the Keough School’s human-centric approach takes seriously the disparate religious perspectives of individuals and institutions we work with.

To students pursuing the Supplementary Major in Global Affairs, we offer the unique opportunity to engage focus on lived religious traditions and their central role in shaping our shared global present and future.

Religious literacy is a must for future policymakers, and the Keough School’s human-centric approach takes seriously the disparate religious perspectives of individuals and institutions we work with. Such a literacy consists in cultivating understanding of the deep, challenging histories of both named world religions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism—and those of other living religious traditions practiced by particular communities in particular places.

This understanding is enriched by coursework in academic disciplines from theology, economics, history, anthropology, political science, sustainability, peace studies, and beyond; and it is transformed in dialogue with faith practitioners in collective pursuit of a more just world. 

Explore the role religion plays in shaping global affairs

Students in Notre Dame’s Keough School already inhabit conversations about the role Catholic tradition can play in integral human development, pursuing the common good, and sustaining life on the planet. Our curriculum allows for further reflection on how other religious traditions can also play analogous roles in actualizing human dignity. For instance, what shall we make of the role of indigenous peoples’ religious traditions in their communities’ struggles for survival? 

We also, however, encourage exploration of religion’s “dark side” in global affairs, guided by both theological reflection from within religious traditions as well as critical reflection produced by institutions (including academic fields of study) whose religious commitments are not always explicit. For instance, how may we think critically about how “Global Islam,” “evangelical fervor,” “irrational superstition,” or “irreligious elites” are framed as problems by powerful interests, and how shall we respond to these framings?

Learn how various academic disciplines define, explore, and imagine religion in global contexts

Each of the arts, humanities, and social sciences approaches religion differently. As an interdisciplinary concentration, we encourage students to integrate diverse disciplinary perspectives on the ways in which religion animates modern social life. What does it mean for quantiative disciplines to measure religions or religiosity? How may these approaches be brought into conversation with disciplines that produce interpretive and critical discussion about modern religion?

Learn how religious actors build from their traditions to frame and solve global concerns

How do Catholic and non-Catholic traditions imagine the ends of global policy: peace, justice, development, democracy, or sustainability? How can these visions complement secular understandings of these key concepts? By what methods and processes may these ends be achieved?

Learn how to engage productively with individuals and institutions of diverse faith commitments

What is “engagement”? Though the word rings differently across legal, commercial, diplomatic, or matrimonial contexts, we emphasize its root meaning as pledge or commitment. For us, “engagement with religions” denotes a set of practices that continually renegotiate our bonds with others: with God, with other religious communities, with “worldly” institutions, with other projects of sustaining our shared world. Students will be encouraged to deepen their classroom engagements through a host of curricular and extracurricular transformational educational programs.

For example, our Holy Cross-roads course invites students from different faith backgrounds to participate in building interfaith understanding with students from partner institutions in predominantly Muslim countries, built around a life-changing trip to Oman during mid-semester break.