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COMPAS Conversation: Religion in Public Life Events

Religion in Public Life

Across human cultures, religion has been one of the leading sources of both inspiration and conflict among individuals and groups. It has provided the motivation for some of the most significant movements for social reform, and for some of the most significant violations of fundamental moral norms. It has both supported and stood in opposition to domination and social hierarchy. Religious disagreements underlie some of the most contentious political disputes in this country and around the world.

The Religion COMPAS explores the contribution that religious beliefs and institutions can make, and the challenge that they can pose, to public life broadly construed. In keeping with the COMPAS program’s mission of fostering civil and informed discussion of important and controversial issues of public concern, we are soliciting contributions from a wide range of religious and non-religious perspectives. Topics discussed include:

  • The historical development of religious toleration
  • The role of religion and pluralism in domestic and global politics
  • Religion as a cause of violence and a force for peace
  • Religious and secular understandings of human equality and social justice
  • The relationship between religious and scientific modes of understanding
  • The prospects for inter-religious cooperation to address challenges such as global poverty and environmental sustainability

Upcoming Events

April 12, 2018 - Science, Religion, and Democracy

3:30p - 5:00p
Thompson Library, 11th Floor

"What is religious belief, and what is its proper relationship to scientific inquiry? Do science and religion represent incommensurable worldviews? If so, then how can people relate to one another as fellow citizens across that divide? If not, then how can we pursue a more constructive dialogue between religious and non-religious people? Should secularism be the “default” position in public debate about scientific issues?"


  • Philip Kitcher (John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University)
  • David C. Lahti (Associate Professor of Biology, Director of the Master's Program in Biology at Queens College, City University of New York)

April 13, 2018 - COMPAS CONFERENCE: Religion in Global Context

8:45a - 12:30p
Thompson Library, 11th Floor

How has religion contributed to the pursuit of world peace?  How has it served as a source of global conflict and violence?  Does religious belief play an essential role in bringing about moral progress?  Are religious conflicts really about religion?

8:45a - 9:00a - Welcoming Remarks

  • Don Hubin, Director of the Center for Ethics and Human Values

9:00a - 10:30a - Session 1: Religion and Global Conflict

11:00a - 12:30p - Session 2:  Religion and Global Cooperation

  • Speakers:
    • Azza Karam (Senior Socio-cultural Adviser, UNFPA)
    • Donald A. Sylvan (Political Science, Ohio State University)