Democracy and Religion

Photo of Shrine to Durga, by Benjamin Vander Steen
Image of text of letter from Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge R, by Kenny Cole

The projects of Democracy and Religion have dual goals. First, they aim to foster the growth of PhD candidates studying the intersection of religion, democracy, and international affairs. Second, they examine under-studied problems in international relations pertaining to the intersections between democracy and religion.

The issues under study by this project include electoral and human rights in the Arab world and democratic deepening in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and Evangelism. Investigating academics include: Alfred Stepan, director of CDTR; Lisa Anderson, former Dean of SIPA and former director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia; Elazar Barkan, Columbia Professor and primary investigator for Choreography of Sacred Sites; Columbia professor Lila Abu-Lughod (also primary investigator in “Who’s Afraid of Shari’a?”); and many others.



Resources for Doctoral Candidates Interested in Religion and World Affairs


CDTR sponsors a pair of initiatives aimed to help PhD students. The first of these are field research grants. These grants:

  • Are available to Columbia University PhD candidates who are preparing proposals or conducting research for doctoral projects related to religion and international affairs, religion and democracy, religion and social integration, or related topics.
  • Are in the amount of student $3,000 to cover expenses directly related to research including travel, lodging, and materials, as well as assistance in identifying under utilized material relevant to their dissertation topic and finding a supportive institutional base for field research.
  • In the 2011/2012 academic year, students are expected to make oral presentations on the results of their research.

For more information, or to apply, please click here.


CDTR is also seeking applicants for our PhD Speakers’ Series. It allows new and recent PhD candidates working on innovative topics on politics and religion to present their work to students and faculty of Columbia University, as well as interested members of the public. CDTR also provides field research grants which are designed to serve as seed money for conducting research in the field. These grants are provided to two exceptional PhDs each year who are nearing the end of the second year of their PhD work.

For information about applying to participate in the Speakers’ Series or be considered for a grant, please contact CDTR via email or by calling 212-854-7813. For grant application instructions, please email [email protected].