Religion Beyond Memes: Enhancing Public Discourse about Faith and Practice

Location: Notre Dame Keough School of Global Affairs, Washington Office 1400 16th Street, Suite 120 Washington, DC 20036

Beyond Memes Ansari Web 1

Religion Beyond Memes: Enhancing Public Discourse about Faith and Practice

Third in the Contending Modernities Series on Changing the Conversation about Religion

In a world where communications are based on 280-character counts, influencer posts, and memes, how can reporters and educators effectively explain the complexities of religion? How can understanding of faith be expanded beyond generalizations and stereotypes? Can academics, practitioners, and journalists collectively change the conversation about religion? 

Join us for a free conference that brings together leading experts in media and higher education to discuss these and other important questions.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Notre Dame Keough School of Global Affairs, Washington Office
1400 16th Street, Suite 120 
Washington, DC  20036



9:00 a.m.       Welcome and overview
Scott Appleby

9:05 a.m.       Session 1: Mapping the Mediation of Religion
Who are the consumers of religion around the world? Who provides the material consumed and in what kinds of settings and formats? Can we map different institutional sources of information and interpretations of religion?
Moderator: Robert Costa
Opening remarks: Tariq Ansari 
Panelists: Heidi Campbell, Emma Green, Jolyon Mitchell, Tariq Ansari 

10:15 a.m.     Session 2: The Geopolitics of Representing Religion
Both majority and minority religions within a given state typically complain that their religious beliefs and practices are willfully misrepresented by hostile state media, hostile secular actors, and other religious actors. This panel explores various motives, incentives, and means of representing religion, as well as platforms that seek to counteract what is perceived as the distortion of religion.
Moderator: Mahan Mirza
Panelists: Nichole M. Flores, Todd Green, Nermeen Shaikh

12:00 p.m.     Lunch 

Jumu'ah prayer available, Room 122 (Zoom Room)

1:15 p.m.       Session 3: Religion Beyond Memes 
What are the challenges in “getting religion right” for non-specialist audiences? How can educators and media representatives respect and convey the vivid and distinctive dimensions of religion without exoticizing it beyond recognition? In short, what must educators and media take into account when handling this subject?
Moderator: Ebrahim Moosa
Panelists: Stephen Prothero, Zeenat Rahman, Ebrahim Moosa

2:00 p.m.       Session 4: Best Practices 
Commentators and interpreters of religion share best practices, concerns, and pitfalls in explaining how to convey complex topics to non-specialist audiences.
Moderator: Atalia Omer
Panelists: Daniel Burke, Mehdi Hasan, Atalia Omer

3:30 p.m.       Session 5: Enhancing the Discourse/Changing the Conversation
This open session features all the conference speakers for a conversation with the audience about specific recommendations and summary reflections on the themes of the day.
Moderator: Rich Jones
Opening remarks: Michael Murray

 4:45 p.m.      Closing Remarks

Featured Speakers



Tariq Ansari, Next Mediaworks Ltd


Scott Appleby, University of Notre Dame


Daniel Burke, CNN


Heidi Campbell, Texas A&M University


Robert Costa, The Washington Post


Nichole M. Flores, University of Virginia

E Green

Emma Green, The Atlantic

T Green

Todd Green, Luther College


Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept


Rich Jones, University of Notre Dame


Mahan Mirza, University of Notre Dame


Jolyon Mitchell, The University of Edinburgh


Ebrahim Moosa, University of Notre Dame


Michael J. Murray, Arthur Vining Davis Foundations


Atalia Omer, University of Notre Dame


Stephen Prothero, Boston University


Zeenat Rahman, The Aspen Institute


Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now!