Georgetown backdrop

Forging Global Solidarity

Leaders: Drew Christiansen David Hollenbach Michael Kessler Tamara Sonn

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified both the deep social and economic inequalities around the world and the lack of political will to address them. Overcoming these long-standing challenges requires the moral imagination to reconsider who is one’s neighbor and to respond in solidarity to the plight of those less fortunate around the globe. The Forging Global Solidarity program seeks to build a cross-cultural and interreligious case for global human solidarity as a shared value with the potential to impact the global agenda. Over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year, a series of events will explore the normative dimensions of solidarity and its policy implications across critical issues, including climate change, migrants and forcibly displaced persons, integral human development, and education.

As Pope Francis argued in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, only a robust vision of solidarity can overcome the challenges posed by the global pandemic and the underlying crises of inequality, consumption, and rash individualism that tear and fray the common bonds of humanity. Unequal access to clean and safe necessities for life, economic stability, and social and political order are exacerbated by the globalization of indifference to our fellows. We have the material means to fix these problems; we too often lack the political will and the sense of moral duty to do so.

The Forging Global Solidarity program takes as a starting point Pope Francis’ appeal for social friendship and universal fraternity that “necessarily call for an acknowledgement of the worth of every human person, always and everywhere.” We are called as persons of good will to turn in solidarity toward our neighbors, migrants, and strangers alike. A moral priority for protecting human dignity and the most vulnerable has the potential to reshape our political institutions and social and economic orders.

Through dialogue and collaboration the Forging Global Solidarity program seeks to build a cross-cultural and interreligious case for global human solidarity as a shared human value. Through engagement within and across traditions, we will develop the normative dimensions of solidarity that might inform future policy directions for a number of critical issues, including: climate, migrants and forcibly displaced persons, integral human development, and education. 

Over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year, the program will sponsor a series of events that address a core set of questions:

  • What are the roots of the idea of solidarity in major religions and ethical thought?
  • How does the moral notion of solidarity call into question prevailing economic and political systems, notions of self-regard and individualism, economic inequality, and a throw-away consumer culture?
  • How does solidarity challenge nationalism, racism, xenophobia, and the treatment of migrants in practice?

Insights from the conversations will be folded into a concept paper that may serve as a basis for an edited volume and further exploration of particular policy areas in coming years.

A diverse group of protestors link arms and wear masks to protect against COVID-19

Project Leaders

Drew Christiansen headshot

Drew Christiansen

Senior Fellow
Walsh School of Foreign Service

David Hollenbach headshot

David Hollenbach

Senior Fellow
Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Michael Kessler headshot

Michael Kessler

Executive Director
Department of Government and Georgetown Law

Tamara Sonn headshot

Tamara Sonn

Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding