Guest Speaker: Professor Peter Mandaville (George Mason University; former US State Department)
Peter Mandaville will reflect on his experiences as senior adviser in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, an initiative created by former Secretary of State John Kerry to build the capacity of American diplomats to understand religious dynamics around the world and to engage religious actors in the pursuit of U.S. foreign policy objectives. He will explain how and why religion has become a topic of interest among policymakers, discuss his work at the State Department, and explore some of the challenges and critical questions raised by governmental efforts to approach religion as an object of policy. Reflecting more widely on his academic research and work at the State Department, including as a member of the Policy Planning Staff, he will also touch on the complex and, at times, contradictory approaches to Islam and Muslims that have characterized recent U.S. administrations, including the current Trump administration, which highlight some of the challenges associated with governments engaging world religion as an object of diplomacy.
Peter Mandaville is Professor of International Affairs at George Mason University and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was formerly a Senior Adviser in the Secretary of State’s Office of Religion & Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and a member of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff under the Obama administration. He has also been a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Pew Research Center.
The IDRG holds a series of interdisciplinary events during the academic year for research students and staff across the university. It aims to bring together researchers from across disciplines to meet, discuss and share common interests around issues of peace, conflict, security and justice.