MA in Religion, Politics, and Global Society

This multi-disciplinary area of concentration prepares students to understand the dynamic relations among religious traditions and modern polities: competitions among religious communities, clashes between secular and religious commitments, science versus faith, and neighbor versus neighbor. The MA immerses students in the study of religious traditions in their interface with contemporary societies in order to engage religion at key global crossroads where modernities contend, civilizations clash, and lifeways connect. Students examine religion, politics, and global society through disciplinary practices culled from across the University. Hosted by UVA’s distinguished faculties in religious studies and politics, and featuring faculty from many departments and schools, the program complements UVA’s nationally recognized initiatives in global affairs and global studies.

Faculty Advisory Board:

  • Ahmed H. al-Rahim, Religious Studies
  • Asher Biemann, Religious Studies 
  • Donald E. Brown, Director Data Science Institute; Systems and Information Engineering
  • Dorothy Fontaine, Dean of the School of Nursing
  • Peter Furia, Politics, Global Studies
  • Matthew Gerber, Systems and Information Engineering
  • Richard Handler, Director of Global Studies, Anthropology
  • James Hunter, Sociology
  • Allen Lynch, Politics
  • Shankar Nair, Religious Studies
  • Peter Ochs, Religious Studies (Convener)
  • Vanessa Ochs, Religious Studies
  • John M. Owen, IV, Politics
  • Philip Potter, Politics
  • Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, Politics
  • Herman Schwartz, Politics
  • Michael Smith, Systems Engineering
  • Milton Vickerman, Sociology
  • Barbra Mann Wall, Nursing School
  • Denise Walsh, Politics, Women, Gender & Sexuality
  • Jerry White, Global Studies

Affiliated Faculty:

  • Majida Bargach, Director of Global Internships; French
  • Talbot Brewer, Philosophy
  • Kathleen Flake, Religious Studies
  • Robert P. Geraci, History
  • Cynthia H. Hoehler-Fatton, Religious Studies
  • Willis Jenkins, Religious Studies
  • James Loeffler, History
  • Loren Lomasky, Philosophy
  • Xiaoyuan Lui, History
  • Neeti Nair, History
  • Vanessa Ochs, Religious Studies
  • Janet Spittler, Religious Studies
  • Kath Weston, Anthropology

MA in Religion, Conflict & Peace

The MA in Religion, Conflict & Peace trains students to analyze and assess violent conflict with particular attention to the diverse roles played by religious actors, traditions, and institutions. It prepares students for the complex challenges of building peace in the twenty-first century. The program treats religion as a specific field of inquiry in the theory and practice of peacebuilding, conflict analysis, conflict resolution, violence and nonviolence, ethnicity and nationalism, politics and political theory, diplomacy, and human development. In addition to these areas of study, the MA may be of particular value for individuals preparing to work in foreign service, peacemaking, second-track diplomacy, community development and organizing, religious leadership, or related areas of teaching/training.

The MA examines religion as it relates to both conflict and peace, exploring how and under what conditions religions fuel or help repair conflict, complicate or facilitate conflict resolution, and impact international and inter-community relations. The MA focuses on recent peacebuilding theories, on predictive models, and on the roles religions may play in transforming conflict and building peace.

MA Degree Requirements

The MA requires successful completion of 30 credit hours, including 24 credit hours of course work (8 courses), 3 practicum credit hours, and 3 credit hours of preparation for a capstone project. The capstone project, which students prepare through course work and individual research throughout their course of study, involves a detailed conflict assessment and peacebuilding plan for a contemporary instance of religion-related violent conflict. Course work must include the three foundational courses (listed below), at least two tradition-specific courses, and three electives. Students are encouraged to choose courses that will complement their research for the capstone project. Students take a comprehensive examination in their final semester. They are strongly encouraged to develop the language proficiency necessary for their region- and/or tradition-specific capstone research.

Course Distribution Requirements: MA candidates in Religion, Conflict & Peace must fulfill the following distribution requirements:

  • Three Foundational Courses: Religion, Violence & Strategy; Religion and Foreign Affairs; and Religion & War. Or substitute courses approved by the program faculty.
  • Religious Traditions: At least one course in each of two religious traditions, ideally related to the student’s capstone research or other individual work.
  • Proseminar: MA students attend a one-hour seminar monthly each semester, focusing on student research and professional development.
  • First-Year Practicum: During their first year of study, students attend a 1-credit-hour practicum in Abrahamic scriptural reasoning, held monthly.
  • Second-Year Practicum: During their third semester of study, students take a 2-credit-hour practicum course involving interface with governmental officials and civil society leaders relevant to their capstone research and course of study.
  • Capstone Project: During the final semester of study, students take 3 credit hours of topical research to prepare their capstone project.

Sample Course Offerings:

  • ANTH 3310 Controversies of Care in Contemporary Africa
  • ANTH 5590 Seminar: Ethnography of Africa
  • ANTH 5590 Seminar: Values, Identity and Survival
  • GSGS 3110 US Military Experience and International Development
  • GDS 3113 A Buddhist Approach to Development
  • HIEA 9021 Tutorial in "China in Hot and Cold Wars in Modern Times"
  • HIEA 9022 Tutorial in “Making of the 'Chinese Nation'"
  • HIEU 3021 Greek and Roman Warfare
  • HIEU 3702 Russia as Multi-Ethnic Empire
  • HIEU 3752 Evolution of the International System, 1815–1950
  • HIEU 9028 Tutorial in British Legal and Political Thought
  • HIME 3559 Cultural History Palestine/Israel
  • HIME 3559 Arab Cold War
  • HIUS 3456 History of U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1914
  • MESA 3559 Islam, Religious Diversity, and Encounter with Other Religions
  • PHIL 3710 Ethics
  • PHIL 3999 Philosophical Perspectives on Liberty
  • PHIL 7770 Political Philosophy
  • PLCP 7500 Identity and the State
  • PLCP 7500 Terrorism and Insurgency
  • PLIR 3310 Ethics and Human Rights in World Politics
  • PLIR 3500 Domestic Politics of International Relations
  • PLIR 5710 Asymmetry and International Relations
  • PLIR 5810 China in World Affairs
  • RELA 3900 Islam in Africa
  • RELB 3030 Mindfulness and Compassion
  • RELC 3090 Israelite Prophecy
  • RELC 3222 From Jefferson to King
  • RELC 3245 Religious Liberty
  • RELG 3559 Religion and Foreign Affairs
  • RELG 5541 Just War
  • RELG 5559 Ethics and Aesthetics
  • RELG 5559 Environmental Ethics
  • RELG 5559 Abrahamic Feminisms
  • RELH 5475 Social Vision in Hinduism
  • RELI 3110 Muhammad and the Qur'an
  • RELI 5559 Islamic Philosophy and Theology
  • RELJ 3100 Medieval Jewish Thought
  • RELJ 5559 Germans and Jews
  • RELJ 5559 Benjamin, Adorno, and Arendt
  • SOC 3410 Race and Ethnic Relations