Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life

Columbia University

the institute for religion,

culture and public life



The Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life supports academic research, teaching, and scholarship on the study of religion, culture, and social difference at Columbia University. In addition, it convenes academic conferences, public forums, and collaborative programming to support and extend academic and scholarly understanding of these topics, and to disseminate and distribute such new understandings to broader publics and communities.

The Institute actively supports scholarship, teaching and public programming across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as well as in the University more broadly under the auspices and oversight of the Department of Religion.


What’s New





Our core event series, Religion and Public Life, provides a platform for exploration and debate of the most pressing current events. In recent years, we have discussed the rise of populism, faith and religion in works of fiction, the movement of people across the Mediterranean, and Native American claims to religious freedom.

DEATH and after

In this year-long series, IRCPL will feature a range of events and speakers, including leading scholars in history and anthropology, as well as film makers, artists, journalists, and social activists. The purpose of the series is to explore a range of topics and issues, from the history of burial and mourning practices to contemporary debates over cryogenics, the political dimensions of urban violence, and the role that music can play in the process of grieving.


In fall 2018, the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life started a three-year project titled “Rethinking Public Religion in Africa and South Asia.” The project furthers scholarly and public understanding of the changing dynamics of interactions among religious communities in the modern world, considering the ways in which religion becomes public through diverse forms of encounter.




Joint projects

IRCPL will fund projects by Columbia University faculty that aim to understand the role of religion in the contemporary world and its historical roots. Joint Project funding may be applied to research projects, seminars, conferences, working groups, and other programs that bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars.

student fellowships

Every year, IRCPL awards a number of research fellowships to students travelling over the summer to complete their dissertation or other research projects. In addition, the IRCPL Dissertation Fellowship provides advanced graduate students with $5,000 towards the completion of their doctoral dissertation over the course of an academic semester


The Claremont Prize in the Study of Religion is dedicated to the publication of first books by early career scholars working in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences. Prize-winners will be invited to IRCPL to participate in a workshop and the books will appear in IRCPL’s series, “Religion, Culture, and Public Life,” published by Columbia University Press.