WFDD Programs & Projects
World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) is a not-for-profit organization working at the intersection of religion and global development. With many mutual interests, WFDD is housed at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and collaborates with them in their Religion and Global Development program. Katherine Marshall serves as the executive director of WFDD and is also a senior fellow at the Berkley Center. WFDD's programs investigate the engagement of religious actors and the role of religion in various development areas such as gender, health, education, and conflict and peacebuilding.
The Berkley Center's Religion and Global Development program, in close collaboration with the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), tracks the engagement of religious communities and faith-inspired organizations around global policy challenges and brings together stakeholders to examine best practices and advance collaboration.
In conjunction with WFDD's investigation into the links between faith and development in Cambodia, the Berkley Center is spotlighting interviews conducted in Cambodia with the goal of increasing understanding of faith-inspired development work, and of identifying issues and challenges that could be addressed in order to further progress towards development goals.
The birth of a baby can be life’s most exciting miracle; the death of a mother or child, a chilling tragedy. Ensuring that families have access to reproductive health information and services and can achieve the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy is an important goal in international health and development. Many faith traditions and denominations, as well as their religious leaders and adherents, support family planning, and essentially all faith traditions support the concept of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy. While areas of lively debate remain, particularly regarding different approaches toward youth, FIOs and faith leaders serve as essential providers and promoters of family planning services. WFDD explores the complexity of this issue across the globe, as well as at the country level, to fill gaps of knowledge regarding permissibly of family planning methods and the involvement of faith actors.
In both the past and present, and in virtually every world region, widely varied religious actors play crucial roles in health care. Nowhere is this more significant than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, in most African countries, faith institutions and groups run clinics, hospitals, and facilities that support families, orphans, handicapped people, the mentally ill, and older people. In communities, leaders and individuals communicate vital messages about health and provide sustained, hands-on care for the sick. Yet many international health institutions and some governments have paid scant attention to faith-inspired organizations (FIOs) and their potential impact has not been tapped in any systematic fashion. This program highlights the work of faith-inspired health actors in Africa to better understand their motivation, strengths, areas for growth, and collaboration with larger health systems.
"How does faith or religion affect your work?" This series of nearly 400 interviews addresses this question with a wide range of development actors across the world. The assembled in-depth conversations with activists, religious leaders, and policy specialists examine best practices and collaborative strategies across a range of contemporary challenges. Interviews focus on country and regional issues and on leading development topics, including women and peacebuilding, health, education, housing, governance, and gender. View our most recent interviews below.
Building upon previous projects from the first phase of collaboration with the Luce Foundation, the Berkley Center’s Religion and Global Development Program and World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) are exploring key religion and development work at the country level in Bangladesh, Senegal, Kenya, and Guatemala. This new research will produce pedagogical resources, research publications, and policy briefs, with a core objective to encourage engagement and collaboration with faith-inspired actors to achieve development goals.
Scholars and practitioners have devoted increasing attention to the roles played by faith communities in negotiating and building peace in the world's conflict zones. Because formal religious leadership tends to be dominated by men, women's engagement in religious peacemaking has received far less attention. To address this knowledge gap, the US Institute of Peace, the Berkley Center, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue have conducted a multi-year exploration of the activities and perspectives of women in peacebuilding and their policy implications.
Women and girls are today a central focus of international development. Increased access to education, employment, healthcare, decision-making, and leadership has brought change to female lives within the home and family. Amidst these shifting social norms, religion plays an important role in shaping gender dynamics within families and society, yet religion’s impact on the family is often poorly understood. To better clarify the nexus of women, religion, and the family, the Berkley Center and the World Faiths Development Dialogue are asking women and men from various faith traditions to share their experiences and opinions in the form of blogs and interviews. Initial pieces examined under-explored topics such as black Muslim motherhood and evolving definitions of family within religious traditions. During 2014 and 2015, blogs and interviews covered new themes each month including marriage, women’s leadership in faith communities, and sexual violence and health issues. An event series is ongoing.
Sports captures energies and imaginations; it also highlights core values that are often universal. Sports is thus a powerful tool for the critical global goals of peace and development. The World Sports Values Program has organized international symposia aimed at highlighting the positive roles that sport can play in furthering the cause of peace and human development. The goal of these gatherings is to facilitate a visionary and rigorous conversation among young athletes, leaders, academics, and experts about the values that the world of sport can advance. The program is sponsored by the International Sports Promotion Society and Worldwide Support for Development.
For many people and faith institutions, the welfare of mothers and children amounts to a sacred duty. It is also enshrined in the year 2000 Millennium Development Goals. One effort to translate these goals into reality was reflected in the launch at Georgetown University of a movement and partnership called A Promise Renewed. The promise to future generations has been formulated in straightforward terms as Ten Promises to Our Children.
The Berkley Center and World Faiths Development Dialogue have developed a series of policy briefs that examine the role of faith-based organizations and topics including: corruption, the WASH agenda, human trafficking in Cambodia, Southeast Asia, aid effectiveness, immunization, and reducing maternal mortality. The briefs distill key findings from reports and consultations carried out during the first five years of the Religion and Global Development program. Comments and suggestions on the documents are welcome as the program looks toward the next phase of its work.
Access to safe and reliable sources of modern energy is crucial for achieving sustainable and equitable development for the world's poorest (and often energy deprived) citizens. Without electricity, students have no light for studying at night, hospitals cannot store lifesaving vaccines, and irrigation systems cannot sustain drought-stricken regions. Burning traditional fuels like kerosene and biomass types like wood and manure emit deadly fumes, pose fire hazards, and contribute to environmental degradation. WFDD, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, explore the intersections of faith and energy access, by beginning to map the landscape of actors and to highlight their current approaches.
Between 2006 and 2011 the Berkley Center and the World Faiths Development Dialogue mapped the activities of faith-inspired organizations across world regions. Through a series of reports, in-depth interviews with practitioners, international workshops, and an interactive database, the mapping project charts organizations anchored in particular faith traditions or with ecumenical or interfaith approaches that are engaged in global development agendas, including poverty relief, education, and the struggle against HIV/AIDS and malaria.
In 2012 the Berkley Center and World Faiths Development Dialogue collaborated with Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) on a year-long project to assess their interfaith toolkit pilot project.The toolkit, prepared in conjunction with an earlier Berkley Center collaboration, aims to engage local community interfaith groups in HFHI efforts to provide adequate shelter for all. The pilot project aimed to test the toolkit's effectiveness as a component of the HFHI community outreach strategy.
The Opus Prize recognizes unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, solving today’s most persistent social problems. Given annually, this $1 million faith-based humanitarian award and awards for the other finalists are collectively one of the world’s largest faith-based, humanitarian awards for social innovation. Recipients are selected on the basis of their entrepreneurial spirit and abiding faith to address global issues like poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and injustice.
In preparation for the November 2011 capstone to reflect on the first phase of the Religion and Global Development project, the Berkley Center and the World Faiths Development Dialogue conducted a series of focused interviews with practitioners and scholars working at the forefront of policy and practice at the intersection of faith and development. As the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadline approached, the interview series explored how the efforts of faith-inspired actors could best be harnessed to craft effective policy looking in the years ahead.
Between 2006 and 2011 the Berkley Center and World Faiths Development Dialogue conducted a multi-year survey of critical issues at the intersection of religion and development. Project publications and associated events tracked the engagement of faith-inspired organizations around a set of core policy challenges, with an emphasis on common problems, ethical commitments, and best practices. The project addressed gender, governance, HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal mortality, shelter, tuberculosis, and water and sanitation.