Upcoming Events

As 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, in October CIRIS will host two evening lectures, in collaboration with the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, exploring the theme of religious liberty and the Reformation. These events are part of Reformation2017, organised by the Jubilee Centre.


From Luther to Locke:
How Protestants Invented Religious Liberty

Prof John Coffey

Wednesday, 18 October, 7:30pm
Clare College, Latimer Room (map)

Abstract: According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’. This doctrine is well-established but it only emerged after a long argument. During the Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants defended the use of force in matters of religion. Around 3000 people were executed for heresy in the half century after Luther. How then, did the doctrine of religious liberty emerge? This lecture examines the debates that raged among Protestants over liberty of conscience, showing how religious freedom slowly became a new orthodoxy.


From Tertullian to Constantine to Roger Williams:
How Catholics Invented Religious Freedom, and Protestants Recovered It

Dr Timothy Shah

Thursday, 26 October, 4:30pm
Clare College, Latimer Room (map)

Abstract: The modern idea of freedom did not, as is still widely assumed, originate with the secular Enlightenment nor even with the Protestant Reformation. Rather it finds its deeper origins in early Christian theologies of spiritual liberty, especially in the work of church fathers Tertullian and Lactantius. Professor Timothy Shah’s lecture will uncover the neglected ancient origins of modern freedom and then trace its subsequent corruption under coercive Christendom and its powerful renewal in the Reformation, noting its continuing reassertion today under conditions of severe religious persecution.



Click here to view our past events.




News & Events

18th Jul 2017

Clare College’s CIRIS Awarded $330,000 from Luce Foundation

Cambridge, UK – The Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies (CIRIS), a research centre based at Clare College, Cambridge, has received a three-year grant of $330,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation in support of its role as the secretariat for the Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion and Diplomacy (TPNRD). The TPNRD Secretariat facilitates communication, coordination, and […]



13th Jul 2017

CIRIS Research Associate Tobias Müller Contributes Chapter to Report on Muslims in Europe

13 July 2017 – CIRIS Graduate Research Associate Tobias Müller recently contributed a chapter in a report on Muslims in the UK and Europe published by the Centre for Islamic Studies at Cambridge University. Müller’s chapter, ‘Constructing Islam and Secularism in the German Islam Conference,’ argues that beyond the intentions expressed by government officials, the aims of the […]


Our Work

Equipping academics

At CIRIS, we aim to equip students and scholars in Cambridge and beyond with a robust and nuanced appreciation for the role of religion in international politics that they will take with them into their future research and/or practice around the world. To this end, we host public lectures, academic seminars, and other events. We are also pursuing research projects that draw on the contributions of Cambridge-based academics.

Engaging the public

We use our platform at Cambridge to influence the public conversation on matters of faith and politics—in the UK and around the world. CIRIS enjoys strong links to key governments, media outlets, religious groups, NGOs, civic leaders, and scholars. We want our website and social media platforms to provide a dynamic space for disseminating and discussing the contributions of our staff, associates, and partners.

Supporting diplomats

CIRIS serves as the secretariat for the Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion and Diplomacy. We facilitate communication and collaboration among this community of diplomats from Europe and North America who have a responsibility for religion-related issues within their respective foreign ministries. Our work in supporting the Network is a partnership with George Mason University and is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and the British Council.

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