ASU professor appointed as affiliate scholar for Faith and Liberty Discovery Center

Professor Taliaferro's research focuses on intersections between religion and politics.

Assistant Professor Karen Taliaferro, in Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, has been named an affiliate scholar for the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center in Philadelphia. This center represents a $60 million investment to provide an immersive experience for visitors that explores the relationship between faith and liberty in America from its founding through today.

Taliaferro is a political theorist who researches the history of political thought, along with religion and politics, with a particular emphasis on Islamic thought. Her current book project, "The Possibility of Religious Freedom: Early Natural Law and the Abrahamic Faiths," examines the perennial conflict of divine law and human law, proposing a re-examination of ancient and medieval traditions of natural law to help mitigate the conflict.

She was awarded a 2011 NSEP/Boren grant for Arabic studies and research on human rights curriculum in Morocco and has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Morocco, focusing on health education and development training. She is part of the inaugural faculty team at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and will teach two CEL courses in the spring of 2019: Great Ideas of Politics and Ethics in Comparative Perspective and Political Leadership and Statesmanship.

“Professor Taliaferro helps to fulfill the crucial global dimension of SCETL’s mission, exploring pressing questions of religion and politics that transcend national boundaries and particular religious traditions,” said Adam Seagrave, associate director for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. "These questions will continue to occupy American and global leaders for generations to come."

Patrick Murdock, the director of the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, praised the great contributions Taliaferro has made to existing scholarship and what she will bring to the table. “Dr. Taliaferro shows how faith has governed American hearts and souls, while the state has regulated our behaviors. We look forward to having her help us showcase how, in the American experience, biblical faith has been what President George Washington once called an ‘indispensable support’ of political freedom and flourishing.”

Taliaferro says that religion played a “tremendous role” in the founding of our country and in the shaping of a unified identity of America.

“When we object to the use of religion in the public sphere today, we need to realize that this comprehensiveness of religion has historically informed so much of our American life. People aren’t divided so they are partly religious and partly civic; they are just people. They will worship and love a god, and they will serve a community, but in each activity, they are the same people.”

The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center is set to open on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall in the fall of 2020. Taliaferro joins the ranks of other highly esteemed scholars that include a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, the Librarian of Congress Emeritus, a legal historian whose scholarship has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and a member of the federal commission that is planning the 2026 celebration that will mark the nation’s 250th birthday.

Written by Myra Francisco

More Law, journalism and politics


Paris building facade with Olympic banners and logo

Reporting live from Paris: ASU journalism students to cover Olympic Games

To hear the word Paris is to think of picnics at the base of the Eiffel Tower, long afternoons spent in the Louvre and boat rides…

Portrait of professor sitting at desk with blue lighting

Exploring the intersection of law and technology

Editor's note: This expert Q&A is part of our “AI is everywhere ... now what?” special project exploring the potential (and…

A maroon trolly car floating on a flat ASU gold background

The ethical costs of advances in AI

Editor's note: This feature article is part of our “AI is everywhere ... now what?” special project exploring the potential (and…