The purpose of this course, inspired by and based on an approach developed by Search for Common Ground, is to provide training and serve as a resource for those working in peacebuilding who may be unfamiliar with (or even wary of!) religious engagement, or who are looking to gain greater confidence in working with religious actors and institutions. This course is also available in French and Arabic

A person worships near lit candles.
Across the globe, religion is a powerful force for peace or conflict. (Photo: Rodolfo Clix, Pexels)

While religion has the power to be a force for both peace and war, many religious actors and religious institutions seek to be part of the solution to conflict. In fact, numerous religious actors and faith-based institutions work to mitigate violent conflict, help those suffering from violence and oppression, and promote peace. Given the complex roles of religion in peace and the presence of conflict dynamics unique to each context, it is important for anyone seeking to engage in peacebuilding activities to understand where and to what extent religion matters and to then determine whether and how to engage with religious actors and institutions, during times of both peace and conflict.

Learning objectives:

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe religious engagement in peacebuilding and the benefits and risks of engaging with religious actors.
  • Reflect on and navigate your own assumptions and biases in religious engagement.
  • Illustrate who religious actors are and their roles or potential roles in peace and conflict dynamics.
  • Investigate ways to engage inclusively with religious actors and institutions.
  • Evaluate the benefits of engaging religious actors and institutions, and know when and how it is appropriate to do so.

Institutional Partners

This course was designed and developed in partnership between USIP and Search for Common Ground and draws upon experiences and insights from many seasoned practitioners from both organizations. This online course was developed and made freely available to the public through funding from GHR Foundation. The views and opinions expressed in this course do not necessarily reflect the view of its sponsors.

Funders' Logos

Chapter 1: Religion, Peace, and Conflict

This chapter examines the complex dynamics between religion, peace, and violent conflict. 

Chapter 2: Religious Engagement

This chapter introduces the religious peacebuilding paradigm, religious engagement, and its role in the broader peacebuilding field.

Chapter 3: Religious Literacy and Sensitivity

This chapter introduces concepts of religious literacy, why it matters, and best practices. It also discusses limitations and risks with regard to religious actor engagement.

Chapter 4: Inclusive Approach to Religious Actor Engagement

This chapter describes inclusive approaches to religious actor engagement, including how to identify and partner with religious women and youth peacebuilders and how to navigate interreligious settings and intra-religious differences.

Chapter 5: Multi-Sectoral Approach

This chapter helps overcome the assumption that religious engagement has to be specifically about “religion.” It also explores the ways religion intersects with many aspects of civil society, politics, governance, commerce, and development.

Chapter 6: Conclusion

This chapter invites participants to apply what they have learned throughout the course and share feedback. This chapter includes the final exam which is taken to receive a certificate of completion.

Instructors and Guest Experts

Instructors

Curriculum Designers

Related Publications

How the Taliban’s Hijab Decree Defies Islam

How the Taliban’s Hijab Decree Defies Islam

Thursday, May 12, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Mohammad Osman Tariq

The Taliban continued this week to roll back Afghan women’s rights by decreeing women must be fully covered from head to toe — including their faces — to appear in public. This follows decrees limiting women’s ability to work, women’s and girls’ access to education and even limiting their freedom of movement. Afghan women are rapidly facing the worst-case scenario many feared when the Taliban took over last summer. While the Taliban justify these moves as in accordance with Islam, they are, in fact, contradicting Islamic tradition and Afghan culture as the group looks to resurrect the full control they had over women and girls when they ruled in the 1990s.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman RightsReligion

Why Religion-Based Support is Vital for Afghan Refugees

Why Religion-Based Support is Vital for Afghan Refugees

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

By: Andrés Martínez;  Carolina Buendia Sarmiento

The increasing violence and insecurity in Afghanistan could force over half a million more people to migrate from the country by the end of 2022, adding to the population of almost 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide. And for these millions of migrants, the plight of serious mental health challenges is a concern that we cannot afford to overlook.

Type: Blog

Religion

Talking to Religious Actors to Preserve Indigenous Languages

Talking to Religious Actors to Preserve Indigenous Languages

Thursday, April 21, 2022

By: Knox Thames;  Mackenzie Miller

In the past, most cultural preservation efforts have focused on protecting the tangible manifestations of heritage such as buildings, worship sites and other physical items. But a 2019 U.N. resolution on the rights of Indigenous peoples emphasized the critical loss of Indigenous languages and its importance to their cultural heritage, thus mandating an international effort to “preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

ReligionPeace Processes

Religious Mobilization in Ukraine

Religious Mobilization in Ukraine

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

By: Denis Brylov;  Tetiana Kalenychenko

Even prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, religious relations between the two countries have often mirrored the long-simmering geopolitical tensions surrounding Ukrainian independence and autonomy. Russia’s previous annexation of Crimea and its intervention in Donbas had already provoked the creation of a united Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) by uniting the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate. The newly created OCU represented a direct threat to Russia’s official domination of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine via the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP).

Type: Analysis and Commentary

ReligionHuman Rights

View All Publications