Fletcher to Explore Link Between Religion, International Relations at Third Annual Conference

How do you train a diplomat, a businesswoman, or a soldier to be an effective, transformational leader in a religiously pluralistic world? 

The Fletcher School’s Religion, Law & Diplomacy (RLD) Initiative will tackle that question and more during its fall conference, entitled “Approaching Religious Literacy in International Affairs,” next month. The third annual conference, to be held on Nov. 3, will be partially supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to promote religious literacy in higher education. The Luce Foundation aims to foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious, and art communities.

“As faculty advisor to the RLD Initiative and as a Tufts and Fletcher graduate, I am inspired by students’ understanding of why ‘religious literacy’ matters in all aspects of contemporary international relations,” said Elizabeth Prodromou, Visiting Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at The Fletcher School. “The support from the Luce Foundation, alongside many University programs and departments, is a vote of confidence in the vision of the RLD Initiative. I look forward to great audience engagement with the incredible group of speakers that we’ve brought together for this year’s conference.”

Confirmed speakers include Sean Callahan, CEO of Catholic Relief Services; Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation; Sonja Licht, President and Founder of Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence; and Col. Robert E. Hamilton, U.S. Army Colonel and Black Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

“This conference will bring together leading academics and practitioners of conflict resolution, security operations, international business and humanitarian action to discuss the need for religious literacy in each of their fields,” said the conference’s student co-chair, second-year MALD student Sasha Lipton Galbraith. Lipton Galbraith is also pursuing her Master of Theological Studies degree at Harvard Divinity School. “We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from both Fletcher and Tufts students, faculty, administrators, and other Boston universities,” said Clare Gooding, fellow student co-chair of the conference and a second-year MIB student. “Academics, practitioners, and increasingly, policymakers, understand that there is an important integration of religion and international relations in today’s world.”

Religion, Law & Diplomacy Conference organizers, from left to right: Robin El Kady, Clare Gooding, Sasha Lipton Galbraith, Elizabeth Prodromou, Mary Soule, Pete Maki

The RLD Initiative launched in 2015 to challenge the assumption that religion should be kept private and excluded from the study and practice of international relations, or only studied in relation to counterterrorism and countering violent extremism. The goal of the RLD Initiative is to confront this narrative, raise awareness that religious literacy belongs in students’ analytical toolbox, showcase the myriad of ways that religion is pertinent to global politics and international relations, and set the course toward greater religious literacy.

“We launched the RLD Initiative three years ago, when students asked about how we could expand the range of course offerings and research opportunities related to the many points of intersection between religion and international relations,” said Prodromou. “Fletcher is a perfect environment for generating cross-disciplinary study and innovative policy, as well as practitioner approaches to the nexus of religion and international relations.” 

To learn more about the conference and register, click here

For more information on the RLD Initiative, click here.