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Intersections is a vibrant digital platform that curates scholarly research at the convergence of religion and international affairs. Its mission is to act as a resource for researchers, policymakers, media professionals, and the wider public, by highlighting scholarship on the changing role of religion in the world. The platform is a free resource, developed by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), leveraging the infrastructure of the SSRC’s Research Area Mapping Platform (RAMP) initiative.

Intersections serves as an accessible repository of sixteen years of research on the role of religion in global affairs. Initiated in 2005 by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs (HRLI) was designed to counteract the proliferation of hate speech and misinformation post-9/11. The initiative introduced an essential shift by acknowledging the significant, yet previously overlooked, influence of religion on foreign policy and global matters. Further, it developed new paradigms for research and teaching, created new resources and networks, and underscored the impacts of media and journalism in overcoming essentialist conceptions of cultures and religions. Over its tenure, the initiative awarded 223 grants totaling more than $60 million to academic, public policy and media organizations.

Drawing from this rich legacy, Intersections will support new academic research, workshops and convenings, while remaining committed to the vision of the original HRLI program. It will continue to:

  • Promote broader understandings of religion in public life across the globe, recognizing the critical impacts of religious beliefs and practices on discourse and policy.
  • Emphasize the value of collaboration, network building and community by facilitating exchanges among scholars and practitioners from diverse disciplines and professions. Notably, it aims to produce work that resonates across the fields of academia, journalism and public policy.

The Intersections platform is made possible due to generous funding from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Click here to watch Intersections’ inaugural webinar, “Religion and the Future of Democracy.”

Types of Content

Intersections is organized around a set of initial research topics that foreground past work associated with HRLI, as well as emerging scholarship, journalism, and policy building on religion at work in the world today.  These include Religion and Democracy, Climate Futures, Religion in the Digital Age and Policy Focus. The landing page for each of these can be accessed from the Research Topics drop-down menu.

Each research topic links to five kinds of content:

  1. Field Reviews are state-of-the-field articles that summarize the latest research and ongoing debates within particular research topics. Field reviews aim to provide readers with a broad outline of key ideas that relate to the topic, identify gaps in the current understanding, and open up future lines of inquiry. When our reviewers analyze the state of the field they also substantively draw on their expertise and research to advocate for future directions of work.
  2. Essay Forums represent a variety of angles or perspectives on particular points of debate. They are essays specifically written for Intersections by scholars drawing on their research or literature in the field. Essay forums will be available from September 2024.
  3. Projects showcase the rich archive of HRLI-supported scholarship over the past sixteen years. They constitute summaries and discussions of a wide range of inputs: from research papers and essays to reports and audiovisual recordings of talks, lectures and podcasts.
  4. Citation Library contains academic articles, reports, and works of journalism sorted into one or more research topics. Our citation library is hosted by Zotero, a free research tool. For help using this service, see the Zotero site.
  5. Profiles highlight individuals within the Intersections network, including those affiliated with HRLI-funded projects, authors of review articles, advisory board members, and fellows of the Religion, Spirituality and Democratic Renewal (RSDR) fellowship at the SSRC.
  6. News showcases religion-focused articles and reports aggregated from the web. 

Advisory Board

Intersections is privileged to have an advisory board composed of the following distinguished experts:

About the SSRC

For more than 100 years, the Social Science Research Council has mobilized research, policy, and philanthropic communities in search of workable solutions to pressing societal challenges. Since its founding in 1923, the SSRC has operated as an independent, international, nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of interdisciplinary research in the humanities and social sciences through a wide variety of workshops and conferences, fellowships and grants, summer training institutes, scholarly exchanges, research, and publications. Learn more at


  • Molly Laas
    Molly Laas is program director for the SSRC’s MediaWell platform. A former science journalist, she earned her PhD in the history of science, medicine, and technology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. Prior to joining the SSRC, she was a 2019-2021 Mellon/ACLS public fellow at the Data & Society Research Institute.
  • Ajlai Basu
    Ajlai Basu is SSRC program officer, focusing on the Intersections platform. Trained as a global historian, she has worked on the relationship between religion and women’s rights in South and Southeast Asia in the early twentieth century. She holds a PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MPhil in social anthropological analysis from the University of Cambridge.
  • Torrese Arquee
    Torrese Arquee is SSRC program assistant. He attained a BA in women & gender studies at CUNY Brooklyn College, focused on the history of African American women’s activism, Black revolutionary movements, and politics in the United States.

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