Georgetown University's Healy Hall

Annual Report 2020-2021

This year the Berkley Center addressed ongoing issues at the intersection of religion and global affairs, and our research and programming explored a wide range of critical issues—from faith and the future of U.S. policy to religion in the COVID-19 pandemic. 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

Web Visits
Students Taught
Berkley Forum Essays
Twitter Followers
REWA Minors

2020-2021 Highlights

Religious Responses to COVID-19

A masked woman in church setting with her hands upward
Religion in the Pandemic: A One-Year Retrospective

How do religious communities contribute—both positively and less so—to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Since March 2020, the Religious Responses to COVID-19 project, led by Senior Fellow Katherine Marshall, has addressed this critical question through groundbreaking research, commentary, and dialogue involving faith actors and development leaders.

Read more about the Religious Responses to COVID-19 project

Masked health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine
Bridging Faith and Development: COVID-19 Vaccination

To facilitate dialogue between faith and development during the COVID-19 pandemic, Marshall co-developed the “Faith and COVID-19 Vaccines Analysis Matrix,” as part of the Religious Responses to COVID-19 project. The analysis guide received coverage in national outlets, including Religion News Service, and is overviewed in a Devex piece co-authored by Marshall. 

Watch footage of the launch event.

U.S. flag flies next to a church steeple against a blue sky

Religion in U.S. Politics and Foreign Policy

he 2020 election of President Joseph R. Biden presented a moment to revisit the relationship between religion and politics in the United States. In response to the election, Berkley Center research and programming continued to explore the challenges and possibilities of faith engagement in a wide variety of domestic and foreign policy issues, ranging from religious freedom promotion and human rights implementation to dialogue across lines of partisan and racial difference. Faculty provided critical reflection on ethical and policy issues by convening events with prominent thought leaders and contributing commentary to leading outlets such as the New Yorker and NPR.

Learn More about Religion in U.S. Politics and Foreign Policy
Election Blogs

Center faculty and a range of external scholars and practitioners explored the complex ways in which religion interfaces with U.S. policy after 2020.


Faculty joined other thought leaders for public dialogue on faith and the future of U.S. policy on issues ranging from refugee resettlement to Vatican diplomacy.

External Faculty Engagements on the Election

Our fellows engaged with organizations and media outlets around the globe to share their expertise and reflections on religion and U.S. politics.


Black man praying in an empty church.
Listening to Black Clergy: Election Edition

On October 7, the center brought together a panel of leading Black clergy to explore anti-racism in the election cycle. Panelists considered how they were preparing their congregations for the election and its aftermath, providing pastoral and theological insight into the fight for racial justice.

Watch the event video.

In response to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Berkley Forum contributors explored:

  • International Religious Freedom – What are the key challenges and opportunities President Biden faces when it comes to religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy? Is it desirable or possible to better integrate freedom of religion or belief in the broader U.S. human rights agenda? If so, how?

  • U.S. Engagement with Global Muslim Communities – Where is priority action needed by the Biden administration when it comes to U.S. outreach to Muslim-majority states around the world? How can the new administration work to repair mistrust of the United States in the Middle East and beyond?

  • Joe Biden and Catholicism in U.S. Politics – What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities when it comes to Catholic engagement in U.S. policy at the start of the Biden administration? How does Catholic moral theology intersect with Biden policy concerns, ranging from multilateralism to racial justice?

Faith and Storytelling

Books on shelf
The Faith and Culture Series

The Faith and Culture Series invites contemporary writers to Georgetown to reflect on their work in the context of the engagement of faith with culture. This year, the series sponsored a panel on “Fratelli Tutti: Social Solidarity from Several Points of View,” which included public intellectuals Pankaj Mishra, Marilynne Robinson, and Michael J. Sandel. It also brought Rev. James Martin, S.J., into conversation with Senior Fellow Paul Elie, moderator of the series. 

Learn more about the Faith and Culture Series.

Ambassador Samantha Power and Paul Elie
Writing as Activism

This year, Elie joined two acclaimed author-activists to discuss how writing influences their engagement with global issues: Ambassador Samantha Power and environmentalist Bill McKibben. Power reflected on her journey from journalist to government official, the focus of her memoir, The Education of an Idealist (2019). McKibben considered the future of climate change, as discussed in his book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? (2019). 

Read event coverage of the conversations with Power and with McKibben.

Pinned map of the United States
The American Pilgrimage Project

The American Pilgrimage Project (APP), a Georgetown collaboration with StoryCorps led by Elie, invites Americans of diverse backgrounds to sit together and talk to each other one-to-one about the role their religious beliefs have played at crucial moments in their lives. This year, Elie convened APP participants for a live event focused on race and Islamophobia. Panelists considered the issues they discussed in their StoryCorps conversations and pointed them toward the present.

Listen to American Pilgrimage Project conversations.


From July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, the center hosted events that ranged from book talks and panel discussions to multi-day, international conferences.

Event Attendees

Over the last year, the virtual format of our events allowed center programming to engage a wider audience than ever before.

YouTube Views

Our library of over 1,000 event videos from the last 15 years continued to garner attention, with a notable spike in views during the pandemic.

Jud Birdsall

Berkley Center Welcomes Judd Birdsall

In January 2021, the center welcomed Judd Birdsall as a senior research fellow. Birdsall is the project director of the Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion and Diplomacy (TPNRD), a forum of diplomats from North America and Europe who collaborate on religion-related policy issues. TPNRD is now housed at the Berkley Center, funded by a generous three-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Read a Q&A with Birdsall.


Our primary activities revolve around a core set of faculty members whose research agendas drive all other center activities, from teaching and student programs to public outreach. Faculty 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 shape academia, national and international policymaking, and public opinion.


Center senior fellows authored commentary pieces placed in the New Yorker, the Washington Post, America, and Devex, among other outlets.

Articles or Book Chapters

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


Jocelyne Cesari and Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., each published an edited volume this past year.


The center released over a dozen reports, policy briefs, and white papers from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Turkish flag flies against mosque in background

Religion and Nationalism in Global Perspective

Senior Fellow Jocelyne Cesari joined experts to discuss religion and nationalism in global perspective during a Berkley Center event series, held from March 2020 to March 2021. The five-part series was part of her Politicization of Religion in Global Perspective project, which focuses on religion and nationhood in China, India, Russia, Turkey, and Syria. A new book drawing on project research was published by Cambridge University Press in December 2021.

Learn More about Religion and Nationalism in Global Perspective
José Casanova and Thomas Banchoff

Public Religions in the COVID-19 World: José Casanova in Conversation

The COVID-19 pandemic—which has limited social interaction while simultaneously raising major societal and economic challenges—introduces a number of critical questions on theories of modern secularization and global religious revival. Jośe Casanova, acclaimed sociologist of religion, explored the interface of these competing theories as part of the Global Religious and Secular Dynamics Discussion Series, a 12-event series which brought him into conversation with prominent intellectuals such as Nilüfer Göle, Hans Joas, and Charles Taylor.

Read about the conclusion of the series.

Student Programs

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

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 local and global communities.

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

  • 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.

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

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

Student Programs by the Numbers

Faculty Courses

Center faculty taught courses across the Georgetown campus, from the College and the School of Foreign Service to Georgetown Law.

Doyle Seminars

This year, the center supported Doyle Seminars on a wide range of subjects—from Dante in popular culture to Black churches and ecumenism.

Education and Social Justice Fellows

Over summer 2020, fellows conducted research on Jesuit educational initiatives in Nepal, Peru, and the United States.

Doyle Global Dialogue Students

The Doyle Global Dialogue provides a platform for Georgetown students to reflect on interreligious and intercultural engagement while studying abroad.

Student Assistants

Student assistants are integral to the work of the center, where they contribute to faculty research projects and support communications and outreach efforts.

Teaching in the Pandemic

Teaching in the Pandemic Slider

Sun reflects off Georgetown University's Healy Hall
Tackling Tough Questions in First-Year Seminars

The COVID-19 pandemic presents major challenges to undergraduate learning, especially for first-year students. In fall 2020, three Berkley Center faculty helped new students build the intellectual skills and community necessary to thrive at Georgetown by teaching first-year seminars that tackled tough questions ranging from the search for self to the international response to COVID-19.

Read more about first-year teaching at the center.

Laptop on table next to coffee mug
Religion and World Affairs Virtual Course Modules

In response to the pandemic, the Berkley Center developed a curated collection of 12 curricular modules that draw on open-access articles and multimedia sources to support online learning in higher education. Each curricular module provides enough material for an undergraduate-level class session, featuring audiovisual material packaged with commentary and discussion questions. 

Learn more about the virtual course modules.

Masked students in a Georgetown University classroom

Doyle Seminars

Part of the Doyle Engaging Difference Program, Doyle Seminars offer instructors the chance to enhance their course with experiential learning through invited guests, outings to local museums or performances, and film screenings coupled with an intensive focus on student research projects. Smaller classroom settings provide a focused learning space for exploring national, social, cultural, religious, moral, and other forms of difference, and deepen student learning about diversity and difference through enhanced research opportunities.

Learn More about Doyle Seminars
Students in "Performing Migration" meet over Zoom

Performing Migration

Performing Migration, a Doyle Seminar taught by Devika Ranjan (SFS’17) in spring 2021, explored the social and political issues of modern migration through the lens of performance studies. By combining reflective discussion with creative projects at the intersection of performance and ethnography, the course allowed students to gain a deeper understanding of how to ethically and creatively tell the migration stories of historically excluded people. 

Read more about the Doyle Seminar.

Reflections on Doyle Seminars

Reflections on Doyle Seminars Slider

Devika Ranjan

In a world where borders are highly securitized, migration is much easier for some. This course intends to think about migration from the perspective of the migrant and the performances that the migrant has to do to try to surmount those barriers—from visa interviews to airport screenings.

Devika Ranjan, Department of Performing Arts

Amina Sadurel

It was really challenging and engaging to talk about the politics of performance and the power dynamics of telling stories that are not your own. Telling stories that are not your own is going to become inevitable, so how do we do it ethically?

Amina Sadurel (SFS’22)

Doyle Global Dialogue, 2020-2021

In 2020-2021, 11 students participated in the Doyle Global Dialogue (DGD), a peer-to-peer conversation among students studying internationally. This year, DGD participants explored the challenges and possibilities of intercultural exchange during the pandemic, and the global diversity of the cohort allowed for rich reflection across lines of difference. Read about their experiences by clicking on each highlighted country.

This map displays the countries of origin for members of the 2020-2021 DGD cohort, which included 10 students studying at the Qatar campus and one international student based at the DC campus. 

DGD Student Reflections

DGD Student Reflections Slider

Temur Khujametov
Temur Khujametov (SFS’23)

Home Country: Uzbekistan

School: Georgetown University in Qatar

“The contribution of other DGD participants to the fruitful discussions was vital in terms of its impact on the formation of my cultural understanding. As I reflect on the past four months, I had a great opportunity to learn more about intercultural and interracial differences while exploring the experiences of DGD participants and my own.” 

Read Khujametov’s final program reflection.

Adeen Rizwan Malik
Adeen Rizwan Malik (SFS’23)

Home Country: Pakistan

School: Georgetown University in Qatar

“The experience of living as a Pakistani in Qatar has taught me that religious differences do not only manifest in the practice of different religions but are also heavily affected by the history and dominant ideology of each place, even in the everyday practices of the same religion.”

Read Malik’s final program reflection.

Lina Darwish
Lina Darwish (SFS’23)

Home Country: Egypt

School: Georgetown University in Qatar

“When I started the Doyle Global Dialogue program, what I thought of as norms were mainly vague concepts and ideas from both Egypt and Qatar, considering I was raised in both countries…What I used to consider ‘different’—and how that slowly changed into the acceptance of differences—became clearer to me.” 

Read Darwish’s final program reflection.

Pulitzer Center International Reporting Collaboration

Pulitzer Center International Reporting Collaboration Slider

Monk reading a newspaper
Understanding Religion and Populism

As part of our partnership with the Pulitzer Center, we jointly host events featuring Pulitzer Center journalists. In spring 2021, journalist and Pulitzer grantee Kalpana Jain joined historian John Fea to discuss the global relationship between media, religion, and populism. The public event complemented a closed-door session with journalists and scholars who explored religion and populism in comparative perspective. 

Read coverage of the event on religion and populism.

Students work at desks in a rural classroom

Education and Social Justice Project

The Education and Social Justice Project (ESJ) provides Georgetown students summer research fellowships to explore issues at the intersection of education and society. Student participants conduct in-depth examinations of innovative initiatives, with a focus on the work of Jesuit secondary and post-secondary institutions. Under faculty supervision, students gather information through interviews, analyze best practices, and share their reports and conclusions with a wider global audience. The fellowship is administered by the Berkley Center and the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service.

Learn More about Education and Social Justice Project

2020 ESJ Fellows

2020 ESJ Fellows Slider

Tierra Hatfield
Tierra Hatfield



Tierra Hatfield (G’22), working with Rohil Kulkarni (SFS’21), examined the educational impact of COVID-19 on the Partnership in Education (PiE) program at St. Xavier’s College in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their research observations focus on socioeconomic hardships, especially the lack of access to online connectivity, and how the PiE program sought to address the digital divide. 

Read more about Hatfield’s project.

Rohil Kulkarni
Rohil Kulkarni



Rohil Kulkarni (SFS’21), working with Tierra Hatfield (G’22), examined the educational impact of COVID-19 on the Partnership in Education (PiE) program at St. Xavier’s College in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their research observations focus on socioeconomic hardships, especially the lack of access to online connectivity, and how the PiE program sought to address the digital divide. 

Read more about Kulkarni’s project.

Amber Stanford
Amber Stanford



Amber Stanford (C’21) partnered with the University of Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (La Ruiz) in Lima, Peru, to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts students, faculty, staff, and the larger community. Her aim is to better understand how La Ruiz is responding to this global health crisis and what effects those choices are having on the university and its community.

Read more about Stanford’s project.

Gabby Villadolid
Gabby Villadolid


United States

Gabby Villadolid (C’21) worked with her high school alma mater, St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco, California, looking at their Magis Center for Equity and Inclusion. Her hope is that this research can assist the Magis Center, along with other Jesuit service-related bodies, in centering racial justice in their programming.

Read more about Villadolid’s project.

Healy Hall at Georgetown University

Berkley Center Student Assistants

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
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