What is religion? What are possible channels of influence and interdependence between religion and politics? What is the relationship between religion and social structure, and how has it changed over time and across societies? How and why does religious identity change and what effect do these changes have for political behavior? Do some modern state institutions have religious roots, and how do religious principles get embedded into secular institutions? What is secularization? What is the proper place of religion in public life, especially in liberal democracies? 

The MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society at Yale University brings philosophical, comparative and historical analysis to bear on contemporary political problems to stimulate new research agendas that in turn yield exciting insights into the connections between religion and politics. The Initiative aims to harness Yale’s strengths in the fields of sociology, history, religious studies and political science, together with critical perspectives from outside the United States, to contribute thicker apprehensions of religion to scholarly and policy debates.

Among the topic areas it seeks to address are conflict, violence, and war; toleration, respect and reconciliation; social movements and electoral politics; utopianism, communitarianism and religion; religion as a source of identity; the place of religion in public life; and the impact of religion on civil society and the welfare state. The initiative emphasizes transnational dynamics.

The main components of the MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society are a colloquium and graduate student conference. The Colloquium on Religion and Politics meets monthly to discuss papers by invited guests on their current research. All faculty, students and visitors to Yale are invited to attend. The Graduate Student Conference provides a forum for advanced students from across Yale and several partner institutions to engage with their peers and present work-in-progress.

The MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society facilitates wide-ranging interdisciplinary dialogue by providing a forum for faculty, graduate students and undergraduates from across the university. It also provides infrastructure to enable scholars and students to think innovatively about religion and its intersection with politics across time and space as it brings together research communities that would otherwise remain insulated from one another in different parts of the university.