What We Do

The RLP has four primary areas of focus:  

Advancing Public Understanding of Religion

Through workshops, webinars, our HarvardX massive open online courses (MOOCs), executive education opportunities, diverse course offerings and conferences, and the Ministry of Ideas podcast, the Religious Literacy Project helps individuals and groups within and outside of Harvard to explore how religion functions in contemporary human affairs. 

Religious Literacy and Education

Building on its foundational work with K-12 teachers, the RLP provides specialized training and support to educators, particularly at the high school and community college levels. Offerings include:  

Training

Resources

The RLP continues to develop and expand a series of open access resources for use by teachers in both traditions-based World Religions classes and in history, the social sciences and other disciplines.

Through country profiles, religion profiles, teaching case studies, and other resources specifically designed for K-12 educators, the Religious Literacy Project represents how religions are

  1. internally diverse
  2. how they evolve and change
  3. how religious ideologies are embedded in all aspects of human experience

Research

Drawing on data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the RLP is conducting in-depth research designed to shed light on the scope and nature of education about religion in U.S. public secondary schools.

The project collects data, maps, and analyzes content related to religion and religious diversity, examining both prevalence and the nature of course offerings. The Mapping Project release will include an interactive web presence and a final report which will offer preliminary conclusions and recommendations to guide future efforts.  

Religious Literacy and the Professions

The Religious Literacy and the Professions Initiative is dedicated to enhancing religious literacy within the professions, with particular focus on the following four fields:

  • journalism
  • global health
  • government
  • business/entertainment media

A symposium series featuring collaborations among professionals, scholars of the profession, and religious studies scholars has recently been expanded to include specialized coursework that will feature professional fellows who will mentor, teach and help broker internships for HDS students in relevant professional organizations.

Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative

This groundbreaking new four-year joint initiative with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Middle East Initiative includes a robust program of research, coursework, internships, professional collaboration and programming to engage the role religions play in contemporary Middle East culture, public policy and international affairs.

The initiative examines the potential for a more sophisticated and capacious understanding of religion to yield fresh insights into contemporary challenges and opportunities for just peacebuilding. It will include:

  • coursework (including January-term programming and summer internships in the region)
  • practitioner fellows program
  • annual symposia
  • public events
  • contributing resources for a related HarvardX  MOOC