Conference on Spirituality, Political Engagement, and Public Life

Lindsay Rogers Common Room, International Affairs Building 707, Columbia University

What are the consequences of the increasing salience of “spirituality” in American civic and political life? Do actors and groups publicly identified as spiritual challenge commonly held understandings of social and political involvement? How strongly are they committed to any particular set of political goals or ideals of citizenship? How do they engage in public life, and do their patterns of involvement differ in a systematic way from those of others? What kinds of alternatives to, or cautionary tales about, dominant understandings of civic engagement might political expressions of “spirituality” present? Building on a wide swath of recent scholarship, the SSRC conference on Spirituality, Political Engagement, and Public Life explored the institutions and traditions that construct spiritual activities and identities, and it considers their relations to systems and patterns of political participation and public engagement in the contemporary United States.