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                Religion and Economy

Project Directors | Statement of Purpose | Project Fellows | Graduate Research Fellows | Religion and Economy Events | Related Courses | Faculty Publications

Project Directors

James E. Foster, Associate Professor of Economics and Former Director of Vanderbilt's Graduate Program in Economic Development
Douglas Meeks, Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies

Statement of Purpose

This study group investigates the interplay between religion and economy, and their joint relationships with other important variables. Of special concern is poverty, whose very existence is a challenge to both religious and economic doctrines. The intervening concepts of freedom, schooling, human rights, and corruption are explored through the religion/economy lens, as is their impact on the process of economic development - the main tool by which economic poverty can be overcome. The main objective of the study group is to enhance our mutual understanding of these issues, and to use our new understanding to contribute to the state of knowledge in this cross-disciplinary area and its related disciplines. A secondary goal is to expand educational opportunities for faculty and students in this area through the development of courses, seminars, and conferences. A third purpose is community outreach at multiple levels. A final aim is sustainability of the group through the pursuit of outside funding.

Religion and Economy Project Full Proposal (pdf)

Project Fellows

Brooke Ackerly, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Kathryn Anderson, Associate Professor of Economics
Daniel Cornfield, Professor of Sociology and Acting Director Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies
Edward Fischer, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Stephen Heyneman, Professor of International Educational Policy
Bart Victor, Cal Turner Professor of Moral Leadership

Graduate Research Fellows

Jon Hanson, Graduate Department of History (2006-2007)
Katy Attanasi, Graduate Department of Religion (2005-2006)
Kevin York-Simmons, Graduate Department of Religion (2004-2005)

Religion and Economy Events

"Religion and Economy: A Focus on Poverty" (pdf), a conference sponsored by the Religion and Economy Group, was held October 16-18, 2007. Rebecca Blank of the Brookings Institution and Douglas Hicks of the University of Richmond were the featured speakers. Link to archived podcasts of conference sessions.

In America, All Religions are True: Implications of the New Pluralism for Democarcy: The 2006 Annual Spring Lecture featured Robert Wuthnow, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion (CSR) at Princeton University, discussing dmocracy and pluralism on March 23, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. in Benton Chapel (pdf). Robert Wuthnow was featured in the Vanderbilt Register. Link to podcast.

The Limits of Self-Interest: Capitalist Vernaculars and Economic Moralities in Guatemala, Germany and the United States: Religion and Economy Project Fellow Edward F. Fischer presented his research on Friday, October 28, 2005 at 3:00 p.m. in 123 Buttrick Hall (pdf).

Religion and International Development: Katherine Marshall, formerly of the World Bank lectured On Religion, Development and World Poverty on February 24th, 2005 (pdf). Works by Marshall include: Africa: How and Why is Faith Important and Relevant for Development? (pdf) and Religious Faith and Development: Rethinking Development Debates (pdf) a speech given at the Religious NGOs and International Development Conference, Oslo, Norway, April 7, 2005.

Banking for the Poor: Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Prize Winner and Founder of the Grameen Bank, gave a lecture at Vanderbilt University entitled The Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (pdf) on January 28, 2005. Yunus is a Vanderbilt Alumn.

Faculty Publications

Brooke Ackerly, Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference , Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

M. Douglas Meeks, The Church in the Global Economy , Minneapolis : Fortress Press, forthcoming.

Ted Fischer co-authored Broccoli and Desire: Global Connections and Maya Struggles in Postwar Guatemala with Peter Benson, Stanford University Press, 2006.

Edward F. Fischer and Peter Benson. “Something better: Hegemony, development, and desire in Guatemalan export agriculture,” Social Analysis 49(1):3-20, 2005.

Edward F. Fischer and Avery Dickins, “Rationality, self-interest, and cultural context: Results of economic experiments in two Guatemalan Maya communities,” Southern Anthropological Association Proceedings, Vol. 40, 2006.

James E. Foster, “Productive Collaborations between Development Practitioners and Academics,” in Attacking Poverty in the Developing World: Christian Practitioners and Academics in Collaboration , eds. Judith M. Dean, Julie Schaffner, and Stephen L.S. Smith, Authentic Media, 2005. (Link to pdf).

Stephen P. Heyneman , “On the International Dimension of Education and Social Justice,” Boston University Journal of Education, Vol. 185, No. 3, pp. 83-103, 2004. Also to appear in the International Journal of Law and Education (Belgium).

Stephen P. Heyneman , “The Effectiveness of Development Assistance in Education: An Organizational Analysis,” Journal of International Cooperation in Education, Vol. 9 No. 1. pp. 7-25, 2006.

Stephen P. Heyneman , Iveta Silova, and Mark Johnson, “Education and the Crisis of Social Cohesion in Azerbaijan and Central Asia,” Comparative Education Review, May 2007.

Stephen P. Heyneman, “Organizations and Social Cohesions,” in the Peabody Journal of Education , Vol. 80, No. 4, 2005. (Link to article)

M. Douglas Meeks , “God the Economist,” in Toward Economic Justice: Paths of Peace , eds. David Howlett, Suzanne Trewhitt McLaughlin and Orval Fisher, Kansas City : Herald Publishing House, 2003.

M. Douglas Meeks , “Being Human in the Global Market Society,” in Oikos Europa Zwischen Oikonomia und Oikumene:Gloable Marktwirtschaft, Eu-Erweiterung und christliche Verantwortung , eds. Deitmar W. Winkler and Wilfried Nausner ( Vienna : Tyrolia-Verlag, 2004), pp. 27-48.

M. Douglas Meeks , “The Social Trinity and Property,” in God's Life in Trinity , eds. Miroslav Volf and Michael Welker ( Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 2006), pp. 13-21.

M. Douglas Meeks , “The Economy of Grace: Human Dignity in the Market System,” in God and Human Dignity , eds. R. Kendall Soulen and Linda Woodhead ( Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 2006), pp. 196-214.

M. Douglas Meeks , “Being Human in the Market Society,” Quarterly Review 21/3 (Fall 2004), pp. 254-265.