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Emory awarded 3.2 million to establish Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Religion
By Elaine Justice | Emory Law | May 31, 2016 11:05:00 AM

Release date: Sept 5, 2000

Emory University has received a five-year, $3.2 million grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to help establish a new Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion. 

"Emory aspires to make religion one of the five or six cardinal themes that suffuses its scholarship and defines its educational mission nationally and internationally," said Emory Provost Rebecca Chopp in announcing the grant. "Emory faculty are doing path-breaking work in the study of religion and practice, religion and the professions, and comparative religions. This support will help the university to become a permanent center for world-class religious scholarship."

The new center will be housed at Emory Law School, and will draw the university’s well-known Law and Religion Program into collaboration with a variety of other initiatives and institutions on campus, including the Candler School of Theology, the Graduate Division of Religion and Department of Religion. John Witte, Jr., director of the Law and Religion Program and Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, will head the center. 

"This center was born of a happy coincidence of interests at Pew and Emory," says Witte. "Pew’s interest has been to lift up the religious dimensions of humane, professional and scientific education at premier research universities. Emory’s interest is to support, enhance and galvanize its ample pockets of study of religion around the campus. This new center will provide an extraordinary opportunity to bring to Emory a steady diet of world-class scholars of religion and to bring to the world a steady diet of premier scholarship on religion. This is quite a blessing—and a challenge."

During the grant period, the university will match the grant with $1.6 million of fiscal and in-kind contributions. Upon expiration of the grant in 2005, the center will be supported by $10 million in permanent endowment funding. 

"The Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion at Emory will play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of religion’s contribution to public life, and in helping to create an informed citizenry," said Luis Lugo, director of the Religion Program at the Trusts. "To prepare our society to deal with growing religious diversity and the moral and ethical challenges we will face, our universities must do their part to promote a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the influence of religious beliefs and practices on important social and cultural issues that cut across academic disciplines among scholars."

The Pew Charitable Trusts have made four major grants to Emory’s Law and Religion Program over the past decade to fund multi-year research and publication projects on "Christianity and Democracy in Global Context" (1989-92), "Religious Human Rights in the World Today" (1992-96), "The Problem and Promise of 
Proselytism in the New World Order" (1996-99), and "Religious Liberty in Russia" (1997-2000).

With this latest grant, Emory joins Yale, Princeton and Notre Dame, each of which recently have received funding from the Trusts to establish centers for interdisciplinary religious scholarship. Each of the centers is designed to provide common intellectual space for the study of religion by faculty and students from across the university, and to produce cutting-edge scholarship on interdisciplinary religious themes.

After a planning year in 2000-2001, Emory’s new center will sponsor a series of two-year conversations, research and study on broad religious themes such as marriage and the family, or the Golden Rule. Each two-year study will culminate in the publication of four to six major new books, dozens of articles and other writings, a video and electronic library of new scholarly resources, new networks of scholars and scholarship, and a major international conference. 

The Pew Charitable Trusts invest in ideas that fuel timely action and results. Pew makes strategic investments to help organizations and citizens develop practical solutions to difficult problems. In 1999, with $4.9 billion in assets, the Trusts granted more than $250 million to 206 organizations.