Receives More Than $2 Million To Launch Center Exploring Role Of
Religion In Democracy
25, 2001 -- The Pew Charitable Trusts has awarded
the University of Virginia $2.5 million for a recently announced
center that will probe the relationship between religion and democracy.
Pew funding will go toward the Center on Religion and Democracy,
a non-partisan research center that will explore the relationship
between religion and American democratic ideals, institutions and
month U.Va. alumnus, Frank Levinson, and his wife, Wynnette Levinson,
of Palo Alto, Calif., committed $20 million to U.Va. -- the amount
to be split evenly between the new interdisciplinary center and
the astronomy department. The $10 million for the center will be
used in numerous ways, including operating and endowment funds to
help start its research and outreach programs, an endowment fund
to create a professorship and other positions, and long-term support
for its programs and outreach initiatives.
Pew grant, which will last nearly four years, was awarded in response
to a comprehensive proposal submitted by principal investigator
James Davison Hunter, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology
and Religious Studies, and his co-investigator, Joseph E. Davis,
a research assistant professor of sociology.
center will bring together some of the Universitys best scholars
with other leaders in the field to study and debate the role of
religion and the values promoted by religion in the American political
process," said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III.
explaining the goals for the center, Hunter noted that although
democracy has survived for more than 200 years in America, it is
faced with numerous, potentially fragmenting challenges in the 21st
century. Among those he cited are dissatisfaction with the election
process, tax system and public education as well as enduring controversies
over such topics as abortion, race, gun control and criminal justice.
democracy requires, politics alone cannot provide," Hunter
said. "Perhaps the central crisis of American democracy is
that the moral values and ideals that historically have been the
foundation of democratic experience are eroding."
center will explore the complex and dynamic role religion plays
in contributing to those values and ideals. Its researchers will
probe the role of religion in forming strong democratic institutions
and practices and publicize their findings in the hope of gaining
an understanding of how religion can revitalize democracy.
center that will explore the relationship between religion and democracy
will help us understand the reciprocal roles they play in civil
society," said Melvyn P. Leffler, dean of the College and Graduate
School of Arts and Sciences
Levinson gift and the Pew grant give the center a strong start in
building its research agenda and planning its outreach efforts,
Leffler said. Acknowledging the value of a center that examines
how to sustain and revitalize democracy, the University has established
a goal of $10 million in endowment for the center over 10 years.
centers research will be organized in themes and span two-year
cycles. The first cycle, covering 2002-2004, will explore religion,
pluralism and public discourse. The second cycle will examine religion
and American public philosophy, and a third cycle will probe religion
and moral and civic education.
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857