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Contact: Marilyn Marks, (609) 258-3601

Sept. 11, 2000

New Princeton grant will support research on public role of religion

Princeton, N.J. -- At a time when religion is taking a growing role on the public stage, the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University has received a major grant to create an interdisciplinary program on the public role of contemporary theology.

The grant of $511,000 from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation will enable the Center to bring six seminary-trained visiting scholars to campus over the next three years. These scholars will conduct research and writing and participate in interdisciplinary discussions about the role of religion in public affairs.

"Many of us who study religion lament the absence of leaders such as Reinhold Niebuhr, John Courtney Murray, and Abraham Heschel, who at one time brought the theological wisdom of their religious traditions to bear on important issues of the day," said Robert Wuthnow, the center director.

"Increasingly, theologians are having to work cooperatively with experts in other specialties, yet they are often ill-prepared to do so," Wuthnow said. The Princeton program will be a significant start toward broadening the disciplinary foundations for public theology in the future, he said.

The program in public theology will give seminary-trained scholars interested in public issues an opportunity to interact with other scholars in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. Each year of the program will focus on a broad theme: the public role of American Christianity during the first year, religion in a pluralistic world during the second year, and religion in an era of new scientific challenges during the final year.

Two scholars each year will be selected through a nationally advertised competition. The deadline for applications for the 2001-02 academic year is January 15, 2001.

More than 50 Princeton faculty in more than a dozen departments teach and write about various aspects of the world's religious traditions. The Center for the Study of Religion was founded in 1999 to facilitate the work of these faculty members and students. In addition to hosting visiting scholars, the Center sponsors courses, conferences and public lectures.

For more information about the Center and the program in public theology, call 609-258-5545.