Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative

Violent conflicts and mass displacement impact billions of lives worldwide. In many places these dynamics remain unresolved despite decades of well-intentioned action and analysis. Examining the profound and often hidden ways that religion can promote or hinder a just peace provides fresh insight into these seemingly intractable challenges and expands our approaches to resolving conflict.

Whether or not a conflict is perceived as “religious," the role of religion is almost always present, yet often misunderstood. Those seeking to understand and working to solve conflicts must recognize the foundational influence of religion within deeply complex contexts, especially in relationship to structural injustice. Far more than ritual practice, symbols, and leaders, religion shapes cultures and systems. It defines values, worldviews, and people’s notions of belonging. In doing so, it also reveals the role of human agency in shaping and resolving conflict. This approach helps us reconsider "inevitable" outcomes and discover what committed action can transform. 

The Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative (RCPI) brings the full resources of Harvard to empower scholars, students, the general public, and professionals in a wide variety of fields to address the most complex conflicts facing the world today. RCPI breaks new ground in conflict transformation using a robust understanding of the power of religion in human experience and contemporary global affairs.

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Our Approach

A sophisticated, contextualized understanding of religion in relationship to structural injustice helps us better envision new approaches to peacebuilding.

Students gathered inside a historic stone building listening to their guide

Educational Opportunities

An innovative approach to educating emerging leaders to help them craft contextualized approaches to understanding and resolving conflict.


RCPI supports practitioners and students as they work to pursue justice and build peace in their contexts.

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Engage with RCPI scholars, practitioners, and fellows.

Voices: Greg Khalil

Fellow in Conflict and Peace, 2019-2020

Religious literacy is one of the “most urgent issues that anyone serious about social justice can undertake.” An RPL fellowship gave Greg Khalil the space to critically think about his work.

See more RPL Voices



Dr Yael Berda

Dr. Yael Berda

RCPI Affiliate (2019-2021)
Dr. Yael Berda is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Hebrew University and Academy Scholar for International and Area Studies at Harvard... Read more about Yael Berda
Dr Roy

Dr. Sara Roy

RCPI Affiliate

Dr. Sara Roy (Ed.D. Harvard University) is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies specializing in the Palestinian economy,...

Read more about Sara Roy
Salma Waheedi photo

Salma Waheedi

RCPI Affiliate

Salma Waheedi is a lawyer specializing in constitutional law and human rights. She is the Associate Director of the Program of Law and Society in the...

Read more about Salma Waheedi