What We Do

At its core, Religion and Public Life is about enhancing the public understanding of religion in the service of building a just world at peace. RPL provides an umbrella for programs, research, and scholarship that explore the ways that religion is entwined with social, political, and economic dimensions of human experience and the institutions that structure human interaction. We provide a framework for students across disciplines and professionals in a wide array of fields and to better understand the destructive as well as the creative power of religion in unique contexts. 


RPL’s academic offerings provide students with the theoretical frameworks and critical approaches needed to understand and address the religious dimensions of the most intractable issues of our time. In addition, RPL supports a broad range of programming within and beyond HDS, inspiring fresh approaches to conflict transformation, education, and a range of other fields. Beyond these pillars, RPL is a space to convene discussions and support projects on religion, power, justice, sustainability, health, and many more critical aspects of public life, both literally in the newly renovated Swartz Hall on Harvard’s campus and figuratively by providing a framework and support for faculty, staff, and students to collaborate on these compelling issues. 

Students and presenters talking at RLP 2019 Summer Institute

Our Approach

Discover how to understand religious influences in social and historical context. 

Photo of several students chatting with four refugees via video conference

Our Impact

See where the RPL community is making a difference at Harvard and beyond.

Dove flying with an olive branch, carved into stone


Get to know our dynamic communities of scholars, practitioners, and students committed to deepening the public understanding of religion to build a just world at peace.

HDS faculty conversing during an Executive Education program

Engage & Apply

Explore opportunities to develop understanding and skills from in-depth graduate training to online modules.


Frequently asked questions on RPL programs and religious literacy. 


Hear how the RPL experience has informed, transformed, and affirmed our fellows’ work.