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Overview

The Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies (CIRIS) is a new multi-disciplinary research centre at Clare College, Cambridge. We aim to provide students, scholars, practitioners, and the general public with credible and engaging insights that will shape new scholarship, sound policy, and constructive debate on the role of faith in international affairs. 

Rationale

Religion is an increasingly salient force—for good and ill—around the globe. News headlines daily remind us that religious ideas and institutions play a critical role in shaping war and peace, poverty and prosperity, oppression and liberty, hatred and harmony. Countless global issues require us to take religion into account in our reflection and response. Faith matters.

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Relief of Cyrus the Great. photo/public domain

The name CIRIS (pronounced “Cyrus”) is evocative of the role religion has played in human affairs for millennia. Cyrus the Great is credited with enshrining religious toleration throughout the Persian empire and he remains a positive historical figure for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Not surprisingly Cyrus’ legacy has been invoked by numerous statesmen, perhaps most notably by American President Harry Truman who declared “I am Cyrus” when expressing his support for the establishment of the modern state of Israel. To this day, as ancient yet dynamic religions continue to shape international affairs, there is pressing need for generating new knowledge of the faith factor in geopolitics—and for communicating this knowledge in ways that are accessible to government officials, religious actors, and other practitioners.

Cambridge provides an ideal platform for creating synergies between rigorous analysis and strategic action on global religio-political issues. Cambridge University is consistently ranked among the very best universities in the world and boasts outstanding Politics, History, and Divinity departments as well as a wide array of outward-facing centres and programmes germane to CIRIS’s mission. Our institutional home at Clare College (est. 1326), a prestigious college in the heart of the city, provides us with an ideal venue for events. By leveraging the world-class reputation and resources of Cambridge University, CIRIS aspires to be an internationally respected hub of innovative thinking and collaborative scholarship.

Goals and Activities

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Clare College Old Court. photo/CIRIS

As a university-based, practitioner-focused, public-minded institute, CIRIS has three mutually reinforcing goals. First, we will equip students and scholars in Cambridge with a robust 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 and pursue research projects that draw on the contributions of Cambridge-based academics.

Second, we use our platform at Cambridge to influence the global conversation on matters of faith and politics. We believe informed policy and discourse are vital to empowering the best—and mitigating the worst—of religion’s influence on global affairs. This website and our Facebook and Twitter platforms provide a dynamic space for disseminating and discussing the contributions of our staff and partners.

Third, we equip the diplomatic community by serving as the secretariat for the new Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion and Diplomacy (TPNRD), a community of diplomats from Europe and North America who have a responsibility for religion-related issues within their respective foreign ministries. CIRIS’s role with the TPRND is a partnership with George Mason University funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, with additional support from the British Council.

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News & Events

26th Sep 2017

CIRIS Research Associate Margot Dazey Awarded Fellowship at Yale

CIRIS Graduate Research Associate Margot Dazey has been awarded a Fox International Fellowship to spend the year at Yale University. Fox Fellows are selected for their potential to offer practical solutions to the problems which stand in the way of the world’s peace and prosperity. Hosted at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, […]

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Publications

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 […]

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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 (TPNRD). We facilitate communication, coordination, 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. The work of the TPNRD secretariat is generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.

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Address

CIRIS
Clare College, Trinity Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1TL