Contending Modernities


Contending Modernities

For more than three centuries, religious and non-religious communities have competed — sometimes violently — as they have responded to the many transformations we know collectively as modernity. 

Contending Modernities is a major interdisciplinary effort to generate new knowledge and greater understanding of the ways in which religious and secular forces interact in the modern world.  In its first phase, the initiative examines how Islam and Catholicism have understood, accommodated, altered, and resisted the radical transformations that have characterized the modern world.

Based at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Contending Modernities involves dozens of scholars, public intellectuals, and religious and secular leaders from universities and research institutes around the world. Under the leadership of R. Scott ApplebyEbrahim Moosa, and Atalia Omer, the Contending Modernities core team oversees and supports the project, which has benefitted from the insights and expertise of faculty from many areas throughout the University of Notre Dame.

Contending Modernities is supported by the Office of the Provost, and Notre Dame Research, through a Strategic Research Investment that provides the start-up costs for three professorships that will further Notre Dame’s expertise in Islamic Studies, Islamic Law, and Catholicism and the Global South. The first of these appointments is Emmanuel Katongole.

Designed to unfold in stages over several years, Contending Modernities is first and foremost a scholarly enterprise, although it is designed to inform public discourse, influence educational content and practice, and place scholarship in the service of informed policymaking, broadly construed. 

Working in interdisciplinary research teams, scholars examine critical contemporary issues and address specific research questions.  Interdisciplinary working groups focus on the following themes:

  • Science and the human person
  • Global migration and the new cosmopolitanism
  • Gender, state, and society
  • Human development and the globalizing economy
  • Authority, community, and identity
  • Governance and citizenship, rights and obligations
  • Deadly violence and conflict transformation