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Research Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Conflict 

The proliferation of religion-related violence has increased the risk for destabilization and mass destruction in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, with consequences for all regions of the world. Governmental, religious, and civil society agencies have failed to produce successful procedures for diagnosing and preventing the rapid spread of religion-related violent conflict worldwide.

In response to this failure, universities across the United States and Europe have developed centers and institutes of excellence specializing in qualitative research on conflict and peace studies. The UVA Initiative differentiates itself from these centers in two significant ways: (a) by developing cross-disciplinary methods of original research that identify religion-specific elements of conflict that remain undetected within current single-discipline approaches; and (b) by employing both quantitative and qualitative methods of research to identify emergent, religion-related violent conflicts and to examine both the religion-specific features of those conflicts and their broader historical, political, and economic settings.

The Religion, Politics and Conflict Program (RPC) frames its approach by the following four areas of research:

  1. Diagnosis: analysis of symptoms, signs, and factors in a given conflict. Primary research areas include linguistics, education, data science, systems analysis, economics, law, religious studies, a range of social sciences.
  2. Contextual and Historical Studies: examining the histories and the enabling conditions for religion-related violent conflict, including literary and cultural elements. Primary research areas include history, education, religious studies, ethnography, sociology, and economics.
  3. Mitigation: examining the geopolitical dynamics, religious actors and policy influences that can inhibit and contain outbreaks of violence. Primary research areas are in politics, including a broad range of complementary sub-disciplines.
  4. Repair: attending to populations, social institutions, and infrastructure under stress as a consequence of religion-related violent conflict. Primary research areas include nursing and medicine, religious studies, psychology, education, engineering, and refugee studies.

RPC offers a trans-disciplinary program of research and teaching grounded in the College of Arts and Sciences, extended by several schools within the University—including law, business, nursing, public policy, engineering, and data science; and strengthened by international academic partnerships.