UCSB’s Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies was recently awarded $400,000 to jumpstart a research initiative focused on determining the impact religion has on international humanitarian efforts.

The grant, awarded by the Henry Luce Foundation, will provide funding for research on the effect of religion worldwide. According to the center, the project will primarily focus on the impact religion has on humanitarian organizations working overseas.

The new initiative will also bring a host of Non-Governmental Organization leaders and scholars from international affairs graduate programs at home and abroad, to campus for a series of workshops, conferences and public lectures.

In a press release, Professor Mark Juergensmeyer, director of the Orfalea Center and international expert on religious violence and conflict resolution, said the grant was crucial to gain a better understanding of the impact religion has on human rights efforts.

“Since religion plays such a vital role in world affairs, it is mandatory that we understand better how it both helps and hinders humanitarian efforts in building a global civil society,” Juergensmeyer said in a press release. “This generous grant will fund a very important venture.”

The new partnerships will also provide international workshops on Africa, the Middle East, South and East Asia and Latin America, which will be held at UCSB. The ultimate goal of the symposiums is the creation of a “Handbook on Religion in Global Civil Society” to be referenced by academic and international NGO communities.

Juergensmeyer, also a professor in the Global Studies, Sociology and Religious Studies Depts., said the pioneering project would lead to the creation of a concentration on religion in UCSB’s master’s program in global and international studies and eventually will function as a model for international studies programs nationwide.

“UCSB’s new graduate program in global and international studies is the first to focus on these issues in a global context,” Juergensmeyer said, in a press release.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang said the new grant would stimulate dialogue between UCSB and experts on religion and positively affect the academic community.

“We thank the Henry Luce Foundation for this extraordinarily generous support of our Orfalea Center project on the impact of religion and humanitarian service on our global society,” Yang said, in a press release. “Scholarly exchange with international experts will stimulate and advance the research of our outstanding faculty and will inspire our students to help make a better world.”