Yale Establishes Institute for Advanced Study of Religion

Yale has established a new center to study the role of religion in a rapidly changing world.

The Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion, funded by a $2.2 million gift from The Pew Charitable Trusts, will focus public, academic and ecclesiastical attention on the role of religion in American life and history; encourage scholars to explore the role of religion in national and global society; address moral and spiritual concerns of leadership in national and international contexts; and disseminate information to communities of learning and of faith.

“The goal of the initiative is to bring together teams of scholars from different disciplines who will share insights with one another while pursuing individual research projects,” says Harry S. Stout, the Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity and the John B. Madden Master of Berkeley College, who is co-directing the new institute with Jon Butler, the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies and History and professor of religious studies.

Each team will include one junior and two senior fellows. The first team will be in residence at Yale during the 1999-2000 academic year and will focus on the theme “American Religion, Race and Ethnicity.”

“The issue of race has been widely studied from social, political, economic and cultural perspectives, but much less has been done on race and religion,” says Stout. “In this program, scholars can look at the ways in which American religion, past and present, has integrated or segregated races or, conversely, the ways in which racial or ethnic identity has contributed to the evolution of religious beliefs and practices.”

The following year, the theme will be “American Religion and Economic Policy.”

Beginning with the 2000-01 academic year, the institute will also award non-residential dissertation and postdoctoral fellowships to encourage the work of young scholars.

“In a time when peer-reviewed fellowships for scholars, especially for younger scholars, is on the decline, support like that provided by the institute is essential,” Butler points out. “We see the institute as nurturing a new generation of scholars in religion.”

Since 1993, Stout and Butler have administered The Pew Program in Religion and American History, a $3.2 million project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. They also oversee “The Works of Jonathan Edwards,” a project jointly funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Lilly Endowment and The Henry Luce Foundation, and published by Yale University Press.

“It is exciting to envision an integrated research community of institute fellows, faculty, staff and students working together in seminars, symposia, lectures and scholarly presentations, all within the context of the broader Yale community,” says Divinity School Dean Richard Wood, a member of the institute’s advisory board. “I look forward to being part of this ambitious project.”

Candidates for residential and non-residential fellowships are invited from all academic disciplines, so long as religion is a key component or variable of their research and their research is related to the theme of “Religion, Race and Ethnicity.” The application deadline for 1999-2000 residential fellowships is Dec. 1; the deadline for 2000-01 residential and non-residential fellowships is Nov. 1, 1999.

For more information, contact the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale, Yale University, P.O. Box 208298, New Haven, CT 06520-8298, or call (203) 432-4040.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325