Current Associate

Wyatt Flicker | University of Delaware, International Relations, Ancient Greek and Roman Studies, History, BA`26

Research Title: Prophetic Politics: Islamic Readings of Plato’s Republic

Research Description: Based on the readings of Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, and Al-Farabi, this research traces the reception of Plato’s Republic through the lens of medieval Islamic theology and political philosophy. Although traditionally placed in the Western canon, the commentaries and insights provided by Plato’s Muslim readers greatly enrich the fundamental concepts articulated by Plato. From formulations on the necessity of prophets for human life to thinly veiled political critiques of the Andalusian political order, medieval Islamic Platonism both elaborates upon and complicates the Platonic framework, offering compelling arguments harmonizing the revealed monotheism of Islam with the Hellenic philosophical model. This research seeks to illuminate the robustness of medieval Islamic reflection on Plato, which is worthwhile in itself, and to guide further analyses to consider Muslim thinkers when evaluating the Platonic corpus. Thus, we can understand medieval Islamic thought as fundamentally in conversation with both the minds of antiquity and the predominantly Christian Western thinkers that monopolize modern philosophical discourses.

Past Associates

Liam Adamczyk | Boston College, History and Theology, BA`25

Loss of Identity: The Religious Passiveness of American Youth

Abstract: This research aims to learn about the decline in religion among American teenagers and young adults. More specifically, it looks at the growing passiveness and the increase in religious “nones” among these groups and identifies significant reasons for the growth in passiveness and unaffiliating. The author wanted to undertake this project to understand what is changing in American culture, leading to lower levels of religiosity. Although religious affiliation is higher than two hundred years ago, many self-identify within the group but do not practice—the research aimed to unpack the numbers on religion in the United States and see what they meant. The core of the study is based on data compiled from national polling agencies. After finding the data, reports, articles, and academic texts are synthesized to understand religious pheromones while looking at religious beliefs and behavior. Then, the study found how generational differences play a significant role in the decline in religiosity. Family life, technology, and current events are all responsible for the fall, not to mention institutional issues causing a lack of trust or desire to affiliate with a religious group. Overall, the paper found that the decline in religion among American youths and young adults will continue. As American culture grows secular and tensions weaken, people will steadily lose faith.

Millicent Caughey | Duke University, Religious Studies and History, BA`25

“Faith and the Law: The Extent of Religious Freedom in Modern America”

Abstract: Under the US Constitution, every American is guaranteed a right to believe and practice the faith they choose freely. However, in practice, true religious toleration is incredibly difficult. The interwoven nature of many religious people, their faith, ethics, and politics often makes the three difficult to parse out. While much Christian tradition and thought has been treated as secular, more obscure faith traditions have been banned or made difficult. In my research, I want to understand the limitations of religious freedom in the United States from two perspectives. First, I want to understand what religious freedom means in a country with a profoundly religious history, and second, I want to examine how modern jurisprudence treats religious liberty issues. Ultimately, I want to understand the extent to which religious practice in the country is truly free, the nature of the so-called paradox of religious freedom, and the extent to which it is the law’s fault.

Jose Serna | Augustana University, Government and Sociology, BA`24

Exploring the Roles and Resources that Chaplains Provide in Healthcare Settings

Abstract: Chaplains are in healthcare facilities nationwide to help complete healthcare teams. They can help bridge the gap between patients’ medical decisions and their religious beliefs. A chaplain brings a spiritual side to patient care that other healthcare professionals can not. They have an encompassing role in healthcare because they can view patients holistically. The COVID-19 pandemic, where they were on the front lines, was an example of how they can act as a listening ear in times of fear, distress, and uncertainty. Additionally, chaplains provide support and resources to patients and healthcare professionals of all faiths. Chaplains are essential in healthcare settings, where faith is intertwined with patient care. Chaplains in a healthcare setting must accept any patient regardless of their faith background. Interfaith chaplains receive training in working with people from all religious backgrounds and beliefs.

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Dana Sultan | The George Washington University, Middle East Studies, BA`24

“Abraham and Covenants in the Quran: A Scriptural Analysis with Biblical References”

Abstract: The Biblical Abrahamic Covenant has served as a central inspiration to a great deal of modern scholarship. Consideration of this fact begs the question– is there an Abrahamic Covenant in the Quran? If so, what does this covenant entail? The most direct response to this question is that the Quran specifies multiple covenants made between God and Abraham. Yet these covenants may all, in a sense, be contextualized to one covenant that was established pre-eternally with all the descendants of the Children of Adam, the Primordial Covenant. This article provides a thorough scriptural analysis of the covenants made between God and Abraham as they are narrated in the Quran and simultaneously seeks to contextualize these covenants with three key concepts: monotheism, submission to God, and the notion of an innate nature that exists within all of humanity– the Islamic fitra. It will additionally utilize an interfaith approach to answer the research question by incorporating Biblical verses into the scriptural analysis.

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Sascha Shroff | American University, SIS, International Studies, BA`24

“A Study of the Use of Sacred Texts in Combating Violence Against Women in Religiously Diverse Communities”

Abstract: Religious spaces and institutions have the ability to help uplift women by addressing gender gaps and combating gender-based violence that prevails in varying religious spaces and traditions. With religion and culture being intertwined in many spaces, it is essential that religious leaders work to ensure that women are held to equal value to men in the religious setting. In many religious traditions, women are held to a high value, a value and practice that helps combat gender discrimination and violence against women. Along with this, different religious organizations have even used religious texts and traditions to help combat gender-based violence and discrimination in different contexts.

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Ayse Pirge | The College of William and Mary, English, BA`21

European Identities in the Context of Orientalism and Cultural Ambiguities

Abstract: Jovan ​​Cvijić’s 1918 “Ethnographic map of the Balkan Peninsula” categorizes certain ethnic groups in terms of religious identity. For adherents of Islam, the term “Moslemized” is used – with the exception of Turks and Tatars, who are described as “Moslem.” The former label indicates a state of passiveness, suggesting that the European Muslims are influenced by external factors that are inherently non-European and Islamic, as opposed to Turks and Tatars, who are the Oriental ‘Other’ and thus non-European. This idea is related to the concept of ‘nesting Orientalisms’ as defined by Milica Bakic-Hayden. While not limited to Albanian, Bosnian, and other predominantly Muslim ethnicities, the negative perspectives regarding Islam have played a role in the construction of “Muslimized,” rather than “Muslim” identities. It is also important to consider the ethnoreligious tensions which have shaped the Balkan Peninsula, and the catastrophic events which have still yet to be fully resolved.

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Bailey Haraburda | The Catholic University of America, Sociology, BA`23, MA`24

“I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me: The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Immigration”

Abstract: This research extends a paper I wrote entitled “Barriers to Mental Health Care Utilization Among American Latinos and Partnership Opportunities with Faith-Based Organizations.” For my project with the Rumi Forum, I focused specifically on exploring the work of Faith-Based Organizations (FBO) in the Washington metropolitan area (DMV) with immigrants. Immigrants to the United States face cultural stress, social marginalization, and discrimination. Refugees and asylum-seekers also experience trauma stemming from violence and persecution in their home country, leaving their homes and the dangerous journey to the United States, and the arduous process of seeking asylum. I contacted FBOs in Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Sikh faiths that assist immigrants with legal status, and access to medical and mental health care, employment, and housing.

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Mona Elsaai | Emory University, Political Science, BA`19

Abstract: The purpose of the research is to comment on reconstruction projects that promote values of religious freedom and exercise in formerly ISIL-controlled areas- more specifically Iraq. This paper does not advance a particular if-then clause; instead, it aims to comment on the nature of the projects in terms of their purpose, the composition of their task forces, and the goals to be accomplished as well as the limitations endured. Reconstruction projects are most broadly differentiated by 1) whether they are homegrown or international, which influences 2) the composition of their task forces, which in turn influences 3) the nature and scope of their goals and purpose. Furthermore, 4) the faith community participating in or affected by the reconstruction or for which these efforts are being carried out influences the composition of the task force, the purpose of the project, and the outreach it aims to have in terms of whether or not a religious minority is willing to participate in the reconstruction projects of another religious group.

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