Rome Summer Seminars on Religion and Global Politics

Note: Applications for the 2024 Rome Summer Seminars (June 2-June 15) will open in the Fall of 2023. Please check back for updates soon

The Rome Summer Seminars is a two-week program for graduate students, scholars and practitioners working at the crossroads of religion and global politics which is designed to draw on the unique religious and geopolitical resources of the city of Rome. The Seminars will begin with a 10-day writing workshop for students and culminate in a 2-day policy dialogue for senior scholars and practitioners. Students attending the workshop will have the possibility to participate in the policy dialogue as observers.

The Seminars aspire to become a hub for innovative reflection on religion and politics and to form a new network of scholars and leaders equipped with the religious knowledge, academic training and policy expertise to effectively engage major policy debates on religion and global affairs. Students will explore key themes emerging in the field of religion and global politics and meet with religious leaders, scholars and policy-markers from across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The program will include public panels, lectures by experts in the field and research seminars with members of the steering committee. Keynote speakers from the 2023 edition included Olivier Roy (European University Institute), Kristina Stoeckl (University of Innsbruck), Cenap Aydin (Istituto Tevere), Scott Appleby (University of Notre Dame), Mohammed Hashas (LUISS) and Anna Rowlands (Durham University), among others.

Francis Merkel

Venue and Visits

Most lectures and writing workshops will be held at the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway near the Colosseum in Rome. The program will also include daily visits to major institutions and personalities engaged in religion and global policy making in the city, such as Foreign Embassies to the Holy See, religious organizations, international institutions, and pontifical institutes active in interreligious dialogue, immigration and conflict resolution.

Writing Workshop

The program is primarily aimed at Doctoral students although advanced MA students with particularly strong applications may be considered. During the writing workshop, graduate students will present early stages of their research, including dissertation chapters, theoretical frameworks, fieldwork strategies and articles to be submitted for publication. 

Each day will include a discussion seminar and a writing forum in which students will present their work and receive feedback from a core of scholars teaching in the seminars. Throughout the week, students will also visit Rome-based religious-political institutions and attend a number of keynote lectures with established scholars in the field of religion and politics. Students who successfully complete the program will receive a formal certificate of participation.

Policy Dialogue

The program will end with an international, closed-door policy dialogue for scholars, policymakers, religious representatives and other civil society actors organized together with the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation. The international policy dialogues have been produced annually through the ‘Religions and International Relations’ initiative launched in 2009 by the Policy Planning Unit of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in co-operation with ISPI. This research program has sought to sustain a high-level discussion on the role of religion in international affairs by gathering together scholars of religions and international relations, diplomats and policymakers, media actors and religious representatives, as well as movements and associations active in inter-religious dialogue. The 2022 policy dialogue was on the theme of religious engagement and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The theme of the 2023 policy dialogue was “Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Contemporary Global Crises."

Events 2023

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June 6 from 6 to 7.30 PM at John Cabot University“China, the BRI and the Mediterranean: New Dynamics” Enrico Fardella (Università di Napoli L’Orientale), Alice Politi (King’s College London), Ibrahim al-Marashi (California State University, San Marcos). Public Panel. John Cabot University Fohring Campus, room FG3, reception to follow.

June 8 from 6 to 7.30 PM at John Cabot University. “Coping with Defeat: Sunni Islam, Roman Catholicism and the Modern State” Jonathan Laurence (Boston College), Debora Tonelli (Georgetown University/Fondazione Bruno Kessler), Ibrahim al-Marashi (California State University San Marcos) and Elena Dini (John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue). Public Panel. John Cabot University Guarini Campus, room G11, reception to follow.

June 9 from 5 to 7 PM at John Cabot University. “Women, Religious Leadership and Global Politics in Rome” Francesca Caruso (Mediterranean Women Mediator’s Network/Sant’Egidio), Sihem Djebbi (Pontifical Theological Seminary of Southern Italy, virtually), Pam Harris (John Cabot University), Giulia Cirillo (Sisters Advocating Globally, virtually) & Gudrun Sailer (Vatican News/Donne in Vaticano). Public Panel. John Cabot University Guarini Campus, Aula Magna. (In case of inclement weather, the event will be held at the Fohring Campus, room FG4). Reception to follow.

June 12 from 4 to 5.30 PM at the Gregorian Pontifical University“Towards a Politics of Communion: Catholic Social Teaching in Dark Times” Anna Rowlands (Durham University). Public Panel. Aula Magna.

June 15 from 5 to 7 PM at the Italian Parliament, Palazzo Montecitorio"Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Contemporary Global Crises". Public roundtable.

June 16 at the Rome Global Gateway. "Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Contemporary Global Crises"  co-organized by ISPI, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the University of  Notre Dame. This is a closed doors event.

Partners and Organizational Structure

The Rome Summer Seminars’ organizational model is a multi-member collaborative consortium which combines scholarship, policy expertise and religious knowledge. The consortium builds on existing partnerships between the following institutions: the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway (RGG), Keough School of Global Affairs and Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion; the Pontifical Gregorian University (PUG); the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI); the Sinderesi Foundation; the Adyan Foundation of Lebanon; the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies of Jordan; the Hanns Seidel Stiftung and John Cabot University (JCU).

The Rome Summer Seminars are being generously funded by the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway and Keough School of Global Affairs, the Hanns Seidel Stiftung in Rome, and John Cabot University.

Steering Committee

  • Michael Driessen (John Cabot University, program director)
  • Mahan Mirza (Ansari Institute, Notre Dame)
  • Fabio Petito (Sussex University)
  • Antonella Piccinin (Gregorian University/Rome Global Gateway, Notre Dame)
  • Samuele Sangalli (Gregorian University/Sinderesi)
  • Elie al Hindy (Adyan Foundation)
  • Renee Hattar (Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies)

Advisory Board

  • Scott Appleby (Keough School, Notre Dame)
  • Azza Karam (Religions for Peace)
  • Fadi Daou (Adyan Foundation)
  • Pasquale Ferrara (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs/LUISS)
  • Anna Rowlands (Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham)

Supporting Institutions

  • Adyan Foundation, Lebanon
  • Angelicum Pontifical University John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue
  • Boston College Clough Center for Democracy
  • Fondazione Sinderesi
  • Gregorian Pontifical University
  • Hans Seidel Stiftung
  • Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI)
  • Istituto Tevere Dialogue Center
  • John Cabot University
  • Religions for Peace
  • Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies, Jordan
  • Sophia University Institute
  • University of Cambridge, Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry
  • University of Durham, Centre for Catholic Studies
  • University of Louisville, Kentucky
  • University of Notre Dame (Rome Global Gateway, Keough School of Global Affairs and Ansari Institute, together with Center for Italian Studies and Nanovic Institute for European Studies)
  • University of St Andrews, Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics
  • University of Sussex, Freedom of Religion or Belief & Foreign Policy Initiative

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