Explore Issues of Church and State with a Graduate Fellowship in Religions and Public Life

Kenan fellowships.

Deadline: August 15, 2019

Each year, Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics funds a Graduate Student Working Group around a theme important to religion and public life.

2019-20 Overview and Theme

The call is open to graduate and professional students wishing to take part in monthly interdisciplinary student-led seminars on Church and State. Projects considering the church-state relationships for any religion and religions in general are welcome. Sample topics might include: how members of religious communities engage—in cooperation or conflict—with state power and governance; religious movements and nationalist movements; issues relating to religious freedom; religiously-motivated violence and peace-making; religion and science policy; religiously-motivated political and community organizing; interreligious cooperation in local, national, or transnational contexts; and law and religious practice, among others. The program conceives of religious experience and discourse broadly and will consider any project that investigates the extension of private devotion or ethical struggles into public or political contexts.

Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics explores the role of religions in historical and cultural context as they influence the lives of their adherents, interact with each other across time and geography, and contribute to the formation of institutions that make up the public sphere. A joint endeavor with the Duke Divinity School, it is an interdisciplinary platform that puts scholars, students, and practitioners in conversation with one another through collaborative research, innovative teaching, and community engagement. Funding for the graduate scholars also comes from generous support from the Duke Center for Jewish Studies.


The graduate scholars will have the opportunity to develop their research interests and discuss recent scholarship. Members take active part in the events of Religions and Public Life and commit to attending monthly meetings throughout the academic year. Graduate scholars will write a think piece or blog post relating their research to contemporary issues, to be published on the Religions and Public Life website at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Additionally, scholars will take part in an end-of-year research conference. Scholars receiving Center for Jewish Studies funding are expected to participate in at least two Center events during the academic year.


Graduate scholars receive $1,250 for full participation. The sum is provided in two payments, one in November and one in April.

Application and Deadline

To apply, please submit the materials listed below to Amber Díaz Pearson (amber.diaz@duke.edu) by 12:00 noon on August 15, 2019, with the subject line: “Religions & Public Life graduate scholars.” Awards will be announced on August 21.

  • Curriculum vita
  • Project description (1-2 pages) describing how it connects to the theme of “Church and State.” Please include your topic and research objectives.
  • Research budget

For further information, email amber.diaz@duke.edu with “RPLI Graduate Fellowship question” in the subject heading.