Report of the Symposium on Faith-Inspired Organizations and Global Development Policy: US and International Perspectives
April 16, 2007
The Report of the Symposium on Faith-Inspired Organizations and Global Development Policy is part of the Berkley Center's Religious Literacy Series and documents a symposium on a similar topic that took place at Georgetown University on April 16, 2007. The event, which featured both leading representatives of faith-based NGOs and policy analysts, focused its discussion on mobilizing public support, collaborating with national governments and international institutions, and implementing policy on the ground. The emphasis of the report is on US-based NGOs that interact with national governments and international organizations across a range of issue areas, including education, health care, gender, humanitarian relief, microfinance, and the environment. Throughout the report, panelists explore the specific tensions around ethical and practical considerations centered on the proper relationship with public authorities and the special nature of the connection between faith, poverty, and social justice.
The first panel focused on the political dimensions of development work and issues of mobilizing support for policy changes and work on the ground. The panelists spoke about the breadth and diversity of faith-inspired institutions in international development work and their personal paths to their current positions of leadership. Panelists stressed their advocacy roles and the potential power of faith-based NGOs to help build constituencies for development work. They addressed the growing but still partial and controversial role of religion in United States foreign policy and how this affects their work both abroad in coordinating with foreign governments and at home by building policy support and a strong financial basis. The second panel focused on the compatibility of an active faith motivation to carry out development work with the demands for professionalism and strong ethical standards. Panelists addressed the complex issues of working as faith-inspired development advocates in a non-sectarian environment. They noted differing approaches on sensitive issues, such as concerns about proselytization and the proper extent to which development workers can bring an explicit focus on religion into their development work. In particular, the panelists contended that a common uniting theme among them was a desire to alleviate poverty and a general emphasis on professionalism and transparency in their approach to development work.
Table of Contents
Panel 1: Framing the Discussion: How Faith-inspired Organizations are Involved in Development Work Today
Panel 2: Politics Encounters Substance: Exploring Facets of the Debates About the Roles of Faith-inspired Organizations