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Global Politics and Religion (Certificate)

The study of religion and public life, nationally and internationally, is of growing interest among scholars at Northwestern and beyond. The graduate certificate program in Global Politics and Religion is an interdisciplinary initiative co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Department of Religious Studies that responds to interest in this emergent field of study. It offers a coordinated program of study for graduate students interested in the interrelations between religion, politics, culture, law, and governance in different parts of the world, and in global and transnational perspective.

Rather than approach religion and politics as discreet entities that ‘influence’ one another, or are even mutually constitutive, this program interrogates the very basis of their conceptual and disciplinary separation. Religion is approached as part of a complex and evolving, shifting series of fields of contemporary and historical practice that cannot be singled out from other aspects of human activity and yet also not simply identified with these either. Resisting the adoption of any singular, stable conception of religion, this program acknowledges the vast and diverse array of practices and histories that fall under the heading of religion as the term has evolved and as it is used today. From this angle, law, political institutions, and other tools of collective governance do not possess procedural autonomy ‘above the fray’ of religious lives. Unpacking the sense of inevitability and neutrality of received understandings of secularism, disestablishment, law, toleration, minority rights and other familiar templates of late modern governance makes it possible to carve out new spaces for the study of religion, law, diversity, and governance—and the complex interrelations between them.

Building on existing strengths across fields at Northwestern, this certificate brings focus and concentration to this dispersed interest. It provides students with the theoretical grounding in the necessary disciplines to support their research, develop professional networks, and prepare them for academic positions in this area of inquiry. Affiliated with the Global Religion and Politics Research Group, Global Politics & Religion Graduate Student Workshop, and the Religion, Law and Politics Study Area in the WCAS Department of Religious Studies, the program strengthens coordination and cross-fertilization across fields and departments among Northwestern faculty and graduate students working in this field, establishing Northwestern as a robust participant in a global conversation. Because this conversation transcends long-standing disciplinary divides, a strong institutional response requires creative programmatic innovation as well as new thinking at the boundary between the study of religion and the study of global and transnational politics, law and history.

Who to contact

Please contact the program directors, listed below, with questions about this program. 

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

To participate in the Global Politics & Religion certificate program, students receive the permission from the Director of Graduate Studies in their program, and must declare their affiliation to the co-directors of the certificate program. To obtain the Global Politics & Religion certificate, students must complete five graduate courses: two core courses and three electives. Students are required to take two core courses in methods: one in Religious Studies and one in Political Science; and three electives from among a list of approved certificate elective course offerings compiled by the certificate administrators. 

Course Requirements

Course Title
POLI_SCI 408-0 Interpretive Methods in Political Science
RELIGION 481-1 Classical Theories of Religion
RELIGION 481-2 Contemporary Theories of Religion
Elective Options *
ANTHRO 474-0 Seminar in Religion and Values
ANTHRO 490-0 Topics in Anthropology (Language and Law)
COMM_ST 525-0 Seminar-Problems in Comm Studies (Language and Power)
HISTORY 405-0 Seminar in Historical Analysis
MENA 490-0 Special Topics in MENA (Islamic Political Thought)
POLI_SCI 464-0 Contemporary Political Thought
POLI_SCI 490-0 Special Topics in Political Science (Religion and Politics or Critical Theory and the Study of Politics)
RELIGION 318-0 Topics in East Asian Religions
RELIGION 462-0 Topics in American Religious History & Contemporary Practice
RELIGION 482-0 Themes in Comparative Religion
SOCIOL 476-0 Topics in Sociological Analysis
*Other elective graduate courses must approved by certificate administrators.