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23 October 2023

King's academic explores the role of religion in post-conflict peacebuilding

Funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, the Social Consequences of Religion (SCORE) Initiative will delve into the profound impact of religious beliefs, behaviours, and institutions on peacebuilding efforts in post-conflict and divided societies.

SCORE Project

Led by Dr Stacey Gutkowski, an expert in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Department of War Studies, the project will identify when, where, how, and why religious faith and practice might foster peaceful relationships and sustain long-term peace after war. 

“There is working hypothesis among peace practitioners that religious traditions provide a vital and potentially unique set of ideas and social structures for fostering forgiveness and reconciliation over the course of generations in post-conflict contexts. SCORE aims to mobilise cutting edge research methodologies from across the social sciences to rigorously test and cast a critical eye on these hypotheses about the power of religion to foster peace”

Dr Stacey Gutkowski

Through an advisory body consisting of academics and practitioners who are working in the field of peacebuilding, SCORE will use evidence from global case studies to investigate under what conditions faith-inspired peace initiatives promote peaceful relationships and social harmony after war, exploring what mechanisms and factors will contribute to sustaining peace in fragile post-war societies.

Dr Gutkowski explains that there are often misconceptions within Western society that religions help drive conflict, however, she states that the reality is far more complicated.

“We know from academic research that this is too simple to be accurate. People wage war primarily as a struggle for power and access to resources, whether those be instruments of state, natural resources, or monetary means. This is the case even when ethno-religious idioms are used by actors to justify violence, as in recent events in Israel and Palestine, or where religious institutions or social structures become embroiled in conflict, as in the case of the Orthodox churches in Russia and Ukraine"

Dr Stacey Gutkowski

For the Templeton Religion Trust, the SCORE initiative will be an important contribution to the development of peace and cooperation in today’s global landscape as its aim to provide the first comprehensive understanding of religion wide ranging and diverse social impact.  

"Ultimately, we want to understand the full range and variation of religion’s effects—including the conditions under which it leads to different outcomes, how it varies across regions and religions, and how it changes over time. We're curious to understand where and when does religion have positive effects, and where and when does it have negative effects? Collecting data and synthesizing existing studies to address this question is vital if we are to build a sophisticated understanding of the contexts in which religion provides positive social consequences and where it leads to failures. This project will help us do just that”

Giavana Jones, Program Officer at Templeton Religion Trust.

The Templeton Religion Trust is a global charitable trust, established by Sir John Templeton in 1984, with its headquarters in The Bahamas. It has been actively engaged in philanthropic efforts since 2012, focusing on projects and storytelling related to the enrichment of conversations about religion.

More information about The Templeton Religion Trust here.

In this story

Stacey Gutkowski

Reader in Peace and Conflict Studies