Georgetown University's Healy Hall

Annual Report 2019-2020

This year the Berkley Center addressed ongoing issues at the intersection of religion and global affairs, and as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe, it again brought to the surface the relevance of religion and religious practice in world affairs. Scroll down or use the navigation at the top of the page to discover highlights from our research, outreach, and student programming this year.

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The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs seeks a more just and peaceful world by deepening knowledge and solving problems at the intersection of religion and global affairs through research, teaching, and engaging multiple publics.

Two premises guide the center’s work:

  • 1 A comprehensive examination of religion and norms is critical to address complex global challenges.
  • 2 The open engagement of religious and cultural traditions with one another can promote peace.

Impact At a Glance

Total Events
Website Visits
Twitter Followers
Facebook Engagements
Berkley Forum Blogs
Students Taught by Center Faculty
Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs Minor Enrollees

2019-2020 Highlights

Coronavirus warning sign in empty church.

COVID-19: Religious and Moral Dimensions

This spring, the Berkley Center added to its research and programming agendas questions about how religion both impacts and is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty have examined the critical role of religion in global health responses to coronavirus—as well as associated ethical, pastoral, legal, and theological challenges—through collaborative research, commentary in popular outlets such as the New Yorker and Religion News Service, and high-profile events.

Learn More about COVID-19: Religious and Moral Dimensions
COVID-19 virus icon
COVID Blog Posts

Center faculty and a wide array of external scholars and practitioners reflected on COVID-19's immediate and future effects on global societies and structures.

COVID Berkley Events

In the face of the unfolding pandemic, faculty quickly adapted their research agendas to consider emerging challenges at the intersection of religion and public health.

External Faculty Engagements on COVID

Center fellows engaged with organizations and media outlets around the globe to share their expertise and reflections on the global pandemic.

Berkley Forum Series on the Implications of COVID-19 for:

  • Vulnerable Populations - What lessons can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic on structural challenges facing vulnerable populations? How can religious ethics inform approaches to the elderly and people with disabilities?

  • Social Welfare - What weaknesses in the American social welfare system have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic? How can faith leaders mobilize action on policies for the common good? 

  • Environmental Health - What does the COVID-19 pandemic teach us about the intersection of religious ethics, climate change, and global health? How might coronavirus-related behavior change figure into long-term action on global climate change?

Humanity in Crisis

David Hollenbach talks with internally displaced people near Kitgum, Uganda, 2009.
David Hollenbach and the Jesuit Culture of Encounter

Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J., has applied Christian social ethics to some of the most pressing issues over the last 40 years. Encounter, a key theme in Jesuit thought and practice, has shaped his timely work on a wide-ranging set of issues, from economic reform and human rights to the refugee crisis.

Read the full profile of Hollenbach here.

Refugees travel on an overcrowded boat on the Mediterranean.
New Book on Refugees

In his 2019 book, Humanity in Crisis: Ethical and Religious Response to Refugees, Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J., examines the causes of and presents ethical solutions to the global refugee crisis responsible for seeing the greatest number of forced migrants and internally displaced persons in modern history.

Read a preview of Hollenbach's book here.

Watch a video of the Humanity in Crisis launch event here.

Promoting Anti-Racism

Protesters with signs in Ferguson, Missouri.
Anti-Racism Resources

Toward the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Subsequent protests against police brutality directed at communities of color have erupted in cities and towns around the world. In response to the ongoing fight for racial justice and reform, the center has compiled its resources on how religion intersects with issues of race in terms of its role in supporting anti-racist movements and agendas and in terms of its complicity in perpetuating racist systems.

Find our anti-racism materials here.

Black Lives Matter protesters.
Blog: Religion and Racial Justice

In the immediate aftermath of George Floyd's murder, the Berkley Forum asked writers to consider how religion contributes—both positively and negatively—to the movement for racial justice and related issues including police violence and mass incarceration; what role pastoral care, religious ethics, and theology might play in shaping religious activism on racial justice; and what concrete steps faith leaders and religious practitioners can take to fight racism in American society.

Read the Berkley Forum responses here.

James Baldwin Mural
Anti-Racism Events

In fall 2019, the Berkley Center co-sponsored an event featuring Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, author of Dead Man Walking and River of Fire, who discussed her work fighting the death penalty and advocating for criminal justice reform. In the spring, the Berkley Center hosted events on the Shakespeare Theatre Company's groundbreaking staging of James Baldwin's The Amen Corner, obligations of the faithful to fight policy brutality, and listening to Black clergy in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Find a list of anti-racism events here.

Total Events

From July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, the center hosted a total of 57 events, ranging from intimate book talks, to multi-day conferences, to virtual events.

Online Events

After moving to a fully virtual environment in March 2020, the center continued to put on online events throughout the spring and early summer.

YouTube Views

Our event videos from throughout the center's history continued to garner attention with a notable spike in views since the onset of the pandemic.

Katherine Marshall poses with United Nations Association of the National Capital Area representatives after receiving an award for her work on human rights.

Faculty Awards

The Berkley Center celebrated several faculty affiliates winning prestigious awards during the 2019-2020 academic year, including Katherine Marshall, who was awarded the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award, and Jocelyne Cesari, who received the Religion and International Studies Distinguished Scholar Award.


The Berkley Center’s primary activities revolve around a core set of faculty members whose research agendas drive all other center activities, including its teaching, student programs, and public outreach. Our faculty’s programs do not merely manifest in the form of publications and a few public events, but connect to a vast set of global networks that influence and shape academia, national and international policymaking, and public opinion.


Center senior fellows authored pieces placed in the New Yorker, Sojourners, America, and the Conversation, among other outlets.

Articles or Book Chapters

Senior fellows published several research articles and book chapters in edited volumes.


Center fellows David Hollenbach and Peter Mandaville each released a monograph this past year.


The center released over a dozen reports from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Three people participate in a silent peace vigil to mark the anniversary of nuclear tragedy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Church and Nuclear Disarmament

As part of his longstanding research and engagement with the Vatican on issues of nuclear disarmament, Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., together with partners from the University of Notre Dame and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, organized a two-day event on the Catholic Church and nuclear disarmament.

Learn More about The Church and Nuclear Disarmament

Religion and the Nation

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Irfan Nooruddin and Jocelyne Cesari speak at event on religion and nationalism in India.
Politicization of Religion in Global Perspective

The Politicization of Religion in Global Perspective project, led by Berkley Center Senior Fellow Jocelyne Cesari, explores the role of religion in nation-building around the world. An initial phase of the project explored how the modern nation-state shaped the development of political Islam, culminating in the book What is Political Islam? (2018). Current research expands these initial findings to analyze the politicization of other religious traditions in various national and international contexts, with a focus on five country case studies: China, India, Russia, Turkey, and Syria. Ongoing efforts include a new event series, launched in spring 2020, that brings Cesari together with regional experts to discuss religion and nationalism in the five country case studies.

Read about the Politicization of Religion in Global Perspective project here.

Bullhorn and Turkish flag in front of Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power

The Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power (GRSP) project, which is led by Berkley Center Senior Research Fellow Peter Mandaville, in collaboration with colleagues at the Brookings Institution, and made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, represents a multi-year, cross-disciplinary effort to systematically study the use of religion in foreign affairs. In December 2019, the project hosted authors of the forthcoming volume Wahhabism and the World, which focuses on better understanding Saudi Arabia’s impact on Islam around the world. During summer 2020, the project team will be managing the production of a series of policy briefs focused on the use of religious soft power in Russia, China, Turkey, India, and Iran.

Read about the Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power project here.

Additional Research Highlights

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Shaun Casey
Shaun Casey


Walsh School of Foreign Service

Shaun Casey's work focuses on religion in U.S. diplomacy and domestic politics. He has led center efforts to understand the role of Christianity in American politics and is working on a book chronicling his time at the Department of State, tentatively titled Chasing the Devil at Foggy Bottom: Religion in U.S. Diplomacy.

Terrence L. Johnson
Terrence L. Johnson

Senior Research Fellow

Department of Government

Terrence L. Johnson continues to research African-American political thought, ethics, American religions, and the role of religion in public life, most recently contributing a chapter titled "Exploring Race, Religion, and Slavery at the Museum of the Bible" to the edited volume The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction (Rowman & Littlefield, October 2019).

Michael Kessler
Michael Kessler

Managing Director

Department of Government and Law Center

Michael Kessler's research and writing focus on theology; philosophical and religious ethics; and social, political, and legal theory. He is currently editing the Oxford Handbook of Political Theology together with Shaun Casey, and he authored an article on justice in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Religious Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, August 2020).

Gerard McGlone
Gerard McGlone

Senior Research Fellow

Rev. Gerard McGlone, S.J., focuses on the clerical sexual abuse crisis with particular emphasis on how, as an institution, the Catholic Church and member organizations can better evaluate and train clergy to prevent abuse from happening. This year he received a grant from Fordham University for the project "Taking Responsibility: Jesuit Educational Institutions Confront the Causes and Legacy of Sexual Abuse" and organized the event "Confronting the Church's Crisis."

William Werpehowski
William Werpehowski

Senior Research Fellow

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

William Werpehowski's areas of scholarly interest include Christian theological ethics, Catholic social thought, and the ethics of war and peace. Werpehowski currently serves as the chair of the Department of Theology and participated in the Berkley Center conference "The Pope and the Bomb: Beyond Deterrence."

Student Programs

The Berkley Center offers a number of ways for students to get involved with the work of the center, including participating in fellowship programs, taking courses and conducting research through the Doyle Engaging Difference Program, and working as student assistants. 

Our approach to student programs at the Berkley Center is grounded in the Jesuit value of caring for the whole person (cura personalis), a central tenet of the Georgetown University education. Our programs are animated by the center's mission of bringing together scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and students to seek a more just and peaceful world by deepening knowledge and solving problems at the intersection of religion and global affairs.

Our student offerings are also deeply informed by the Doyle Engaging Difference Program’s mission to equip students and faculty with the skills necessary to thoughtfully engage matters of difference in integrated spaces of teaching and learning, in and outside the classroom. As campus collaborators on the Doyle Program, the Berkley Center seeks to implement this vision through guided academic and professional mentorship and extended learning opportunities that transcend the classroom, helping students connect their Georgetown experiences to the wider campus and to local and global communities.

Upon completing any Berkley Center student program, the participant should be able to:

  • 1

    Show evidence of global awareness, particularly interreligious and intercultural competencies, by engaging in discourse and practice on matters of political, religious, social, economic, and racial differences.

  • 2

    Demonstrate analytical skills and the ability to clearly articulate complex issues in research and digital scholarship.

  • 3

    Illustrate interdisciplinary knowledge integration and intellectual curiosity in traditional and experiential learning spaces.

A Decade of Success: A Look at 10 Years of Center Student Programs

Doyle Seminars Students

Georgetown faculty have taught over 900 Georgetown undergraduates in Doyle Seminars since the program started 10 years ago.

Unique Doyle Seminars

Faculty have taught seminars on topics ranging from race and politics to film to prison reform.

REWA Alumni

50 Georgetown students have graduated with a Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs minor or certificate since the start of the program.

Junior Year Abroad Network Students

Hundreds of students have participated in this study abroad reflection program.

Junior Year Abroad Network Countries

Participating JYAN students have written reflections from countries across six continents.

Education and Social Justice Project Fellows and Countries

Students participating in this program have conducted in-depth studies of social justice programs around the world.

Ryann Craig speaks to students at a meet and greet event.

Welcoming New Director of Student Programs

In fall 2019, the Berkley Center welcomed Dr. Ryann Craig as its new director of student programs. Since joining the center, Dr. Craig has been hard at work evaluating and enhancing our student offerings. Recently, we interviewed Dr. Craig to learn a little bit more about her and her vision for the future.
Learn More about Welcoming New Director of Student Programs

Doyle Seminars

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Participants at tables listening to presentation at Religion and the Work of a Lawyer luncheon.
Finding Faith in the Legal Profession

Amelia Uelmen’s Doyle Seminar, Religion and the Work of a Lawyer, explored the ways in which practitioners think about legal questions and their own work as lawyers as related to their religious or spiritual outlook. This year, Professor Uelmen brought together over 100 alumni, faculty, and students to launch an alumni network for the seminar at a luncheon held during the Georgetown Law reunion weekend in October 2019.

Read more about the alumni network launch.

Reflections on Doyle Seminars

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Evan Jewell

In many ways, [my Doyle Seminar] was the most fulfilling teaching experience of my career so far, as every class we ended up having such meaningful discussions and debates about immigration, refugees, displacement, xenophobia and more. At another level, meeting the other Doyle instructors earlier in the semester was formative for my own teaching: I built connections with two professors working on the issue of migration/immigration in different fields, and even co-led a joint class excursion to a museum, which turned out to be a very meaningful moment of cross-pollination between our classes—and the basis for future scholarly collaboration.

Evan Jewell, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Classics

Alexander Afnan

I think [Professor Uelmen's Doyle Seminar] has been so valuable in allowing us to really dig deep within our own reflection and then when we encounter things that we don’t necessarily agree with, learning how to interact with that and communicate with differing perspectives or values.

Alexander Afnan (L'21)

Junior Year Abroad Network (JYAN) 2019-2020

In 2019-2020, 21 students participated in the JYAN program. They witnessed and wrote about issues ranging from political unrest in Hong Kong and Chile, to the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about their experiences by clicking on each highlighted country.

JYAN Student Reflections

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Amber Liao
Amber Liao


Barcelona, Spain

"JYAN is a wonderful initiative—I found my abroad experiences more meaningful through guided discussions and sought camaraderie with fellow cohort members. I am so grateful for the community support given throughout the process."

Read Liao's final program reflection here.

Teak Hodge
Teak Hodge


Cape Town, South Africa

"Existing as Black in South Africa requires grappling with an anger that is not my own... My Blackness links me to this space, ties my foreign body to the history of South Africa, and allows me to feel this history on multiple levels. While my ancestral rage may occasionally overwhelm me, it is a lens through which I can complexify and more deeply engage with my experiences in South Africa."

Read the full post "Bearing My Ancestors' Pain."

Michelle Zhu
Michelle Zhu



"[A]chieving some semblance of unity—whether in Singapore, the United States, or even on a global scale—lies in...personal shifts. It demands that we acknowledge our individual shortcomings and gaps in understanding and strive to respect and embrace the appearances, perspectives, and experiences of those who are different from us."

Read the full post "(Dis)unity in Diversity."

Pulitzer Center International Reporting Collaboration

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Education and Social Justice Project: Past, Present, and Future

Children doing schoolwork
Past: 10 Years of Success

This story chronicles how, over the past 10 years, the Education and Social Justice Project (ESJ) has impacted students and global communities by providing 38 talented Georgetown undergraduates with summer research fellowships to explore issues at the intersection of education and society.

Children line up in Malawi
Present: 2019 Case Studies

This report reflects on the tenth year of the Education and Social Justice Project, which provided three Georgetown University students with fellowships, allowing them to travel to Ireland, Thailand, and Malawi to conduct in-depth examinations of innovative educational initiatives, with a focus on the work of Jesuit institutions.

Old Town Romerberg at sundown
Future: Promotio Fellows - Our Vision

This brochure offers a vision for the future of ESJ, which entails renaming the program; expanding it to additional fields beyond education, including migrant and refugee care, global health, and environmental stewardship; increasing the number of annual participants; and increasing the academic rigor through course credits and incorporating digital scholarship design.

ESJ Testimonials

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Adam Barton

It is hard to emphasize enough how much the experience impacted me. I came into Georgetown not knowing that I cared about research, yet ESJ helped me discover this passion for research to effect social change.

Adam Barton (C'16), 2014 ESJ Fellow in Brazil

Nicholas DiRago

I am currently a doctoral student in sociology at UCLA. ESJ was a formative step in my journey towards a career as a social scientist and prepared me to produce the quality of research expected at a top department.

Nicholas DiRago (C'14), 2013 ESJ Fellow in Peru

Research assistants work on computers at the Berkley Center

Berkley Center Student Assistants

Berkley Center student assistants are integral to the work of the center, helping us achieve our mission through their contributions to faculty research projects, as well as their support of communications and outreach efforts. Some work directly with faculty members to provide book editing assistance; conduct research that informs reports, blogs, or policy briefs; or support classroom instruction. Others support our staff in day-to-day center operations. In all cases, student assistants are given meaningful, content-rich work that develops knowledge and skills that make them strong candidates as they seek internships and enter the job market.

Learn More about Berkley Center Student Assistants

Hear from Our Student Assistants

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Alero Oyinlola
Alero Oyinlola (C'22)

Student Assistant, American Pilgrimage Project

Current Position: Facebook Intern

"I became a student assistant as a freshman; my skills and experience were quite limited. In the past two years, serving as a student assistant has allowed me to develop skills in project management, including: research, outreach, and stakeholder engagement. Further, the center’s staff and fellows have provided me with opportunities for professional development and growth. This summer, I will be interning at Facebook and I am convinced that securing the internship is largely attributable to skills acquired at the Berkley Center."

Micah Musser
Micah Musser (C'19)

Student Assistant, Faculty Research

Current Position: Research Analyst, Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology

"As someone who plans to pursue a career in the world of academia and think tanks, working at the Berkley Center provided me with invaluable research experience at a major research institution. I was able to interact with respected academics, develop my editing abilities, and learn about religion and international relations, all while helping the center in its mission of promoting research that can advance a more just and equitable world."

Elizabeth Pankova
Elizabeth Pankova (C'20)

Student Assistant, Communications

Current Position: Intern, "The New Republic" magazine

"As someone pursuing a career in media, the Berkley Center was a perfect working and learning environment. I was able participate in so many aspects of the center’s media presence, from writing articles to helping manage the website. But more than that, working at the Berkley Center allowed me to interact with fascinating research, speakers, and faculty with whom I never would have crossed paths with otherwise."

Download a PDF of this Report