WFDD Programs & Projects
The World Faiths Development Dialogue in collaboration with Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Centre for Peace and Justice at BRAC University are engaged in a three-year research project entitled “Bangladesh: Religious Dimensions of Development and Social Cohesion.” This project explores the faith dimensions of development and social cohesion and supports coalitions that work in practical ways to foster peace and interfaith understanding. The corresponding development topics for each project year are education, gender, and climate change/youth.
WFDD’s central goal is to create research materials that support national-level advocacy and inspire collaborative dialogue among secular and faith actors, policymakers, and development institutions that often operate separately, but have important shared objectives and values.
"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.
Although the overwhelming majority of the world's population participates in religious communities, faith-based organizations and interfaith networks have had only a very modest impact on the global agenda. The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to take stock and explore how best to bring the resources of religious communities to bear on critical issues, including progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year the project will sponsor a series of events to consider how global religious and interfaith networks can better mobilize their strengths and partner more effectively with international organizations, NGOs, and governments in practice.
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.
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.
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.
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 November 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.
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, from 2010 to 2015 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 and girls are today a central focus of international development. Increased access to education, employment, health care, 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, during 2014 and 2015 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. 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).