This interview‐style panel will present the research and reflections of three scholars working in the field of religion and society. Among other things it will address: key concepts and concerns in the study of religion in society, limitations of current approaches in this field, possibilities for Bahá’í engagement, the relationship between community‐building efforts and the intellectual life of the community, and the panelists’ experiences of applying insights from the Bahá’í Revelation in their areas of research.
Dr. Julia Berger is Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Religion at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. Her recent book, Rethinking Religion and Politics in a Plural World (Bloomsbury, 2021) explores the changing role of religion in the international arena, with particular attention to insights emerging from the Baha’i community’s engagement with the United Nations. Prior to her current work, she served as Principal Researcher at the Baha’i International Community’s United Nations Office (2004-2015), focusing on human rights, gender equality and social development and representing the Office in various UN fora. Her 2003 article about religious NGOs at the United Nations was one of the first to examine the field of international religious organizations in international affairs. From 2002-2004, Dr. Berger was Research Associate at Harvard University’s Program on Religion and Public Life, where she explored the role of religious organizations in the provision of social services in the US. She serves on the Leadership Team of the American Academy of Religion Women’s Caucus, is Co-Chair of the Academy’s Baha’i Studies Unit and of the International Scholars Session of the Women’s Caucus. Dr. Berger serves on the Executive Committee of the Association for Baha’i Studies—North America. She holds a PhD from the University of Kent, UK in Theology and Religious Studies and an M. Ed. in International Development and Education from the University of Toronto. She is a citizen of Poland, Canada, and the United States, and lives in Montclair, NJ with her husband and twin daughters.
Emily is currently a postgraduate fellow working on publications related to her dissertation, entitled: “Omani Ibadism: transitions in modernity, encounters with Salafism.” Fascinated by the study of modern Islam through less-conventional approaches, she has explored perennial questions about Islam’s place in the modern world and Islamic orthodoxy by researching sectarian and ethnic minority groups. In addition to Omani Ibadism, she has researched Salafism in the African American community and its relationships to Saudi Salafi networks.
Benjamin Schewel is a Fellow at the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain at the University of Groningen and an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He also serves as a Research and Policy Officer at the Bahá’í International Community, Brussels office. He is the author of Seven Ways of Looking at Religion: The Major Narratives.
Matthew Weinberg served as Research Director of the Bahá’í International Community, in Haifa, Israel, and led the initial work of the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity in contributing to international development discourse. He has worked as a consultant for the Gates Foundation evaluating development programming, and was also a senior analyst with the United States Congress Office of Technology Assessment, in Washington, DC, where he directed studies in the areas of environmental and technology policy.