ACLS Names First Grantees in New Program Connecting Scholars of Religion and Journalists


The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the inaugural cohort of grantees for the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs (RJIA). This program is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

RJIA grants provide support to universities with strengths in the study of religion, journalism, and media to pursue programming that connects scholarship on religion to journalism training and practice. The awards of up to $60,000 fund a variety of projects, including new interdisciplinary curricular ventures, public programming, and research working groups. Grantee universities also may serve as host sites for research fellows supported by the RJIA program during the 2017-18 academic year. 

“This year's grantees exemplify the dynamic, interdisciplinary collaborations that the RJIA program was designed to foster,” said John Paul Christy, director of public programs at ACLS. “The supported projects promise to strengthen connections between humanistic scholarship and journalistic practice and to build greater public understanding about the role of religion in international affairs.”

The 2016 grantees of the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs are:

Columbia University
Principal Investigators: Katherine Pratt Ewing, Religion, and Alexander Stille, Journalism
“Sufis, Salafis, and the Public Square”

This project brings together scholars of religious studies and experienced journalists to examine the relationships between authoritarian regimes and Salafist movements in countries where Sufism is being crowded out by heavily funded forms of Salafism and other forms of anti-Sufi Islam. The research team will produce a database of oral histories of Sunni Muslims and government representatives as well as pieces of long-form journalism and scholarly articles that draw on the project’s ethnographic research.

Indiana University
Principal Investigator: Elaine Monaghan, Journalism
“Perceptions of Religion”

This project draws on Indiana University’s area and international studies experts, media and religion scholars, journalism practitioners, and media school resources in order to launch a new undergraduate study abroad course, design collaborative curricular units, and convene scholars at the university to examine how media practitioners can do a better job of reporting, understanding, and portraying complex stories that touch on religious issues. 

Northeastern University
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Bucar, Religious Studies
“Reporting Religion”

This two-part project develops an experiential embedded course for journalism students co-taught by religious studies and journalism faculty, which in its first iteration will focus on Islam and Christianity in Spain. The project also will develop a public workshop that brings together faculty and practicing journalists across New England to highlight various dimensions of scholarly expertise in religious studies relevant to journalists covering international affairs and to improve scholars’ ability to communicate their expertise to a broader audience. 

For more information about these projects, visit

The competition to select the RJIA program’s first cohort of research fellows will open in August 2016. ACLS will award up to six fellowships to scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who wish to pursue research on any aspect of religion in an international context while also developing capacities to relate their work to conversations in the media. In addition, the program will convene fellows with select journalists and public policy experts at symposia during the 2017-18 fellowship year.

For more information about the program, visit