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Center for Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR)

Director: Alfred C. Stepan

Co-Director: Karen Barkey

(212) 854-7813

815 International Affairs

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The Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR) conducts research and training on the interfaces of and tensions between religion, toleration, and democracy in the world. Located in the School of International and Public Affairs, CDTR examines the role of religion in world politics. Our overarching goals are to identify how tolerance between religious and secular actors can be better theorized, and to aid in the development of new strategies for promoting religious-secular tolerance. To this end, we work toward building a new subfield on religion and international affairs, in which novel research and policy solutions can be formulated. To foster the development of young academics and practitioners in this growing subfield, the Center supports graduate courses, post-doctoral training, and student-faculty research initiatives. We also host fifty events each year—ranging from intimate closed meetings to widely-attended international conferences—in order to promote the broadening research networks on religion and politics.While global in scope, CDTR’s work has particularly focused on Islam and international affairs, on variants of secularism, and on how these variants have affected coexistence in different states. Many of our activities focus on Indonesia, which is the world’s largest Muslim democracy; on Turkey, which has a strong “assertive” secularist tradition; and on India, which is democratic notwithstanding its deep religious, linguistic, and ethnic diversity. We hope that our research can help to bring about sufficient tolerance between religious and secular actors such that societal peace, a rights-respecting democratic polity, and sustainable people-oriented development become mutually reinforcing goals. 


  • Religion and Human Rights Pragmatism
  • Who's Afraid of Shari'a?
  • Choreography of Sacred Sites
  • Toleration: Secularism Outside Latin Christendom
  • Democracy and Religion
  • Religious Minorities at Risk

Center for Democracy, Toleration, and Religion

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