The University of Notre Dame has announced a $15 million gift from Rafat and Zoreen Ansari and their family to create a global institute dedicated to the study of religion.
To be housed in the university’s new Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs, the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion will position itself through research, teaching, and outreach as a center of education and public deliberation with respect to all religions. To that end, faculty at the institute will study the roles religion plays in the public sphere and in crucial sectors such as health care, education, and the economy, and will focus on the distinctive — and often overlooked — contributions religion makes to the common good. The institute also will offer fellowships to promising graduate students and organize a series of conferences that convene the foremost leaders, practitioners, and thinkers engaged in inter-religious and religious-secular dialogue around issues of pressing concern.
"The various roles of religions in alleviating suffering, accompanying the migrant and the refugee, serving the poor, and reducing violent conflict are far less understood and publicized than the havoc created by a tiny minority of deluded religious extremists on every continent," said R. Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean of the Keough School. "The Ansari Institute intends to change the conversation about religion — not by denying the troubling aspects of religious expression, but by directing attention to the vast good done by religions, and the even greater good they might accomplish in partnership with universities and other public and private institutions."