New research initiative investigates religion, rights and gender

August 22, 2011

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s efforts to advance cross-disciplinary exchanges on religion, conflict and global politics got a boost this past year with a $350,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

The grant supports a two-year project titled “Religion and International Affairs: Through the Prism of Rights and Gender” led by Linell Cady, director of the center and Dean’s Distinguished Professor in the School of Historical, Philsophical and Religious Studies, and Carolyn Warner, professor and head of political science in the School of Politics and Global Studies, both in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

Cady explains that the project is part of the Luce Foundation’s initiative to counter a long-standing failure to adequately engage the intersections of religion and international affairs.

“The idea that religion is private or just a screen for other 'real' causes has contributed to its neglect among policymakers and scholars,” Cady said. “But this is now beginning to change.”

The Luce funding is supporting a broad, multipronged initiative that includes a faculty seminar, public lectures, visiting scholars, research awards, international fellows and a conference.

“We chose to focus on gender, human rights and religion because that’s an especially combustible combination,” Cady said.

Cady points out that so often women – how they dress and what they do – are the pawns in larger battles over national, civilizational or religious identity, or all three at once.

Separating out the realities on the ground from the rhetorical uses to which “saving women” are put has become increasingly important, she adds.

To plan the cross-disciplinary seminar, Cady and Warner brought together a larger project team that includes John Carlson, associate director of the center and associate professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Miki Kittilson, associate professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies, and Rebecca Tsosie, professor of law, Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar and executive director of the Indian Legal Program at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Sixteen faculty members from diverse fields, including political science, history, law, sociology, women and gender studies, anthropology, justice studies and religious studies, are involved in the faculty seminar. Readings explore topics ranging from the historical and philosophical roots of human rights, to the role of international law and NGOs, to the complex challenges facing women in multiple regions.

The Luce project also includes support for an international fellow to spend a month in residency at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. The Luce international fellow for 2010-2011 was Marzia Basel, a human rights activist and judge in Afghanistan. During her visit to campus, she met with the faculty and students, gave public lectures, visited a number of community organizations, and lectured in multiple classes.

Basel's visit culminated in a meeting with Sandra Day O’Connor in which they discussed the enormous challenges of negotiating customary practices and women’s rights in the emerging legal system in Afghanistan.

Warner said Basel’s visit had a deep impression on the seminar members.

“Her visit gave us the opportunity to talk at length with an activist and professional who was at the intersection of the very topics about which the project is meant to stimulate discussion, research and understanding,” Warner said.

Other visitors brought to campus for the Luce initiative were Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University; Dan Philpott, associate professor of political science and peace studies at University of Notre Dame; Rachel Cichowski, associate professor in political science at the University of Washington; Isabel Coleman, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Eliza Griswold, journalist. They too met with the seminar and gave additional lectures on campus to a wider audience of faculty and students.

Entering the second year of the project, Cady and Warner look forward to the continuation of the interdisciplinary conversations that not only cross academic disciplines, but raise challenging and important questions about the relationship between the academy and social transformation.

The second year also will see the development of new research projects and graduate seminars as a result of seed funding provided by the grant.

"We hope our project contributes to further understandings by policymakers of the nature of human rights, gender and religion based issues in international affairs, and that the project enables academics to gain a better understanding of policy work and the constraints under which it operates,” Warner said.

The Luce project will culminate with a conference at ASU in March 2012. The conference will provide a public forum for the presentation of the faculty research projects, and an opportunity for engagement and dialogue with a broader audience on these complex and challenging issues at the intersection of religion, rights and gender.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, a research unit of ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Tempe campus, promotes interdisciplinary research and education on the dynamics of religion and conflict with the aim of advancing knowledge, seeking solutions and informing policy. To learn more,

Story by Nesima Aberra

Soccer ties school record in closeout win over NAU

August 22, 2011

What a difference a year makes.

Rewind back to the 2010 season opener between Arizona State and Northern Arizona as the Sun Devils found themselves in a back-and-forth contest in which they scored a goal in the final minute to slip by the Lumberjacks 4-3. Download Full Image

There would be no such drama or any last-minute heroics needed on Friday as the Sun Devils exploded for six goals in the second half on their way to a 7-0 win over NAU.

Sierra Cook (two goals) and freshman Alexandra Doller (two goals) combined for four of ASU's goals in the second half as the Sun Devils dominated in every phase of the game holding decisive advantages in shots (28-1) and corner kicks (11-1).

The seven goals ASU generated tied the school record, which was set and then equaled in consecutive weeks by the 2000 squad, which defeated Pittsburgh 7-0 on Sept. 10, 2000 and then followed that up with a 7-0 win over Eastern Michigan on Sept. 17.

On Friday the Sun Devils were aggressive right from the start as they attacked the NAU goal time and again. ASU's approach paid off immediately five minutes into the game when Jasmine Roth's shot into the far post found its mark to give ASU a 1-0 advantage.

Although ASU got off 14 shots in the first half, Roth's goal would be the only one in the first 45 minutes.

However in the second half the Sun Devils would see better returns on their shots as they struck with a trio of two-goal flurries.

Devin Marshall began the offensive assault 3:30 into the second half when she took a pass from Holland Crook, made a move and found herself with a clear shot at the net to give ASU a 2-0 lead.

A little more than three minutes later it was Cook finding the back of the net to give ASU a 3-0 advantage.

Cook would then begin ASU's next scoring burst when she connected on a header in the 65th minute to extend ASU's advantage to 4-0. Less than 30 seconds later it was Doller who joined in on the scoring as she registered the first goal of her career to make it a five-goal game.

The freshmen duo of Sarah Van Horn (75th minute) and Doller (77th minute) would close out the scoring for the Sun Devils as they accounted for their goals in the space of 1:46 to make the final count 7-0.

Cook's two goals tied her single-game career high, which she set during her freshman season in 2008.

With the win the Sun Devils are now 5-0 in season openers under head coach Kevin Boyd and are now 14-3-4 in games played in August-September going back to the 2009 season.

The Sun Devils return to action next Sunday (Aug. 28) when they host No. 21 South Carolina at 1 p.m. at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium.