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Programs

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.

Religion and Global Development

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.

Faith and Development in Cambodia Interview Series

This page spotlights interviews conducted in conjunction with WFDD's investigation into the links between faith and development in Cambodia as part of an effort aimed at 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.

Faith and International Family Planning

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.

Global Health and Faith

In both the past and present, and in virtually every world region, widely varied religious actors play crucial roles in health care. 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 to better understand their motivation, strengths, areas for growth, and collaboration with larger health systems.

Practitioners and Faith-Inspired Development Interview Series

"How does faith or religion affect your work?" This series of almost 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.

World Sports Values for Peace and Development

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.

Past Programs

A Promise Renewed to End Preventable Child Deaths and Support Mothers

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.

Critical Topics around Religion and Development

Since 2006 the Berkley Center and World Faiths Development Dialogue have conducted a multi-year survey of critical issues at the intersection of religion and development. Project publications and associated events track the engagement of faith-inspired organizations around a set of core policy challenges, with an emphasis on common problems, ethical commitments, and best practices. To date the project has addressed Ebola, gender, governance, HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal mortality, shelter, tuberculosis, and water and sanitation. Project research has also resulted in a series of policy briefs that examine the role of faith-based organizations and topics including: corruption, the WASH agenda, human trafficking in Cambodia, aid effectiveness, immunization, malaria, and reducing maternal mortality. Ongoing work continues, following recommendations to develop teaching case studies, further in-depth country level studies, focused exploration of crossing cutting issues, and wider, better, and sharper communication and outreach strategies. This project was originally launched through the Luce/SFS Program on Religion and International Affairs.

Faith and Agriculture

Agriculture is the main source of income and sustainability for many African households, and smallholder agriculture remains the backbone of both economies and society in many countries. Interventions by development partners, governments, and private sector actors have led to numerous improvements in productivity and increased food supply, however these do not aways filter down to smallholders in significant ways. Researching the links between faith and agriculture, this project explores what practical added value, if any, faith actors in Ghana might have in influencing information sharing, behavior change, and attitudes related to farming practices, technology, and advocacy.

Faith in Action: Empowering the Poor to Reach Universal Energy Access

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.

Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Pilot Project

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.

Mapping of Faith-Inspired Organizations by World Region and Country

As part of a multi-year survey the Berkley Center and the World Faiths Development Dialogue are mapping the activities of faith-inspired organizations across world regions and countries. Through a series of reports, in-depth interviews with practitioners, international workshops, and web resources, 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. This project was originally launched through the Luce/SFS Program on Religion and International Affairs.

Opus Prize

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.On November 13, 2013 Georgetown University and the Opus Prize Foundation awarded the 2013 Opus Prize to Sakena Yacoobi, founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning in Afghanistan. The Fahmina Institute in Indonesia and Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association in Washington, D.C., each won $75,000. More information about the prize is available on the foundation’s website.

Women, Religion, and Peace: Experience, Perspectives, and Policy Implications

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 U.S. Institute of Peace, the Berkley Center, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue conducted a multi-year exploration of the activities and perspectives of women in peacebuilding and their policy implications, issues that continue to feature in ongoing Berkley Center work.

Women, Religion, and the Family

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 asked 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.

The Women, Religion, and the Family project was made possible through the generosity of Mary Jo Gwin Wiese (C'82, G'84).