The School of Foreign Service unveiled the Religion, Ethics and World Affairs Certificate, a new undergraduate certificate formed in conjunction with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, on Friday.
The certificate, which will be available next semester, aims to address the role of religion in international affairs in a manner yet to be offered by other disciplines at Georgetown, according to Thomas Banchoff, the director of the Berkley Center and an associate professor in the government department and the SFS.
“Other majors and certificates explore international relations and particular religious traditions,” Banchoff wrote in an email. “But until now there [have] been none that [address] the religion-ethics-world affairs interface in a structured way.”
The Berkley Center plans to accept 15 applicants, eventually including those from schools outside the SFS, to the program each semester, according to Banchoff.
SFS students said that they are excited for the opportunity to incorporate a religious perspective into their undergraduate study of international relations.
“It’s about time that the SFS incorporated theology into its higher academic curriculum,” Ben Talus (SFS ’14) said.
According to Banchoff, recent world events — including the Arab-Israeli conflict, Muslim-Hindu relations in South Asia and the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and terrorism — inspired the certificate.
The program has three academic concentrations: faith and ethics in international relations, religion and politics seen through a comparative perspective and religion in history and culture. Through these areas of study, the coursework will explore the role of religion in culture and domestic and international politics. Available classes will be offered through a variety of academic departments, including government, history, theology and international affairs.
“I see the certificate as a way to solidify our contribution to the undergraduate curriculum and deepen our collaboration with [the] SFS,” Banchoff wrote.
The certificate also includes an original research component organized through a capstone seminar led by Banchoff, who will work closely with the students. Possible topics include the connections between religion and ethics in relation to democracy and human rights, economic and social development and international security.
Seminar students will be required to present their research each spring at an annual colloquium and the winning body of work will be published on the certificate’s website.
The Berkley Center also hopes to create a sense of community for its certificate members through sponsored study breaks for students and lunch seminars with program faculty.
“The Berkley Center thrives on close faculty-student collaboration in research, outreach and teaching,” Banchoff wrote. “Informal interaction through study breaks and lunches can complement the work we do together in the classroom.”
Jaclyn Markowitz (SFS ’14) viewed the creation of the certificate as a logical step for the SFS.
“A lot of times I think people underestimate the effect of religion in other culture,” Markowitz said. “If Georgetown has such strong government, international affairs and theology departments, why not combine them?”