For many people working on humanitarian causes, spirituality is the force that compels them to be engaged with the world. They may have a ministry to serve the poor or be an activist fighting for human rights. They may be Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or not adhere to any particular tradition. What they share is an engaged spirituality.
From our first project following the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles, CRCC’s research and training programs have sought to understand and support faith leaders committed to improving their communities. CRCC continues this work today by studying the lives and work of exemplary people committed to advancing human flourishing across the globe. The following page includes stories of such people, created by CRCC’s researchers and journalist fellows. From the individual stories, CRCC aims to define and establish a field of “spiritual exemplars” and understand how engaged spirituality operates in their lives. This endeavor is supported by the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust.
Sign up for CRCC’s newsletter to receive updates on the project.
Above, Maggie Gorban ministers to children in a slum on the outskirts of Cairo.
- AnnouncementNominate a Spiritual ExemplarDo you know someone who is changing the world? Is their work inspiring but not widely known? The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture is launching a global project on spiritual …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleSarah James: Fighting for What’s Sacred in the Arctic National Wildlife RefugeThis article was originally published in The Spiritual Edge, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. For most of her life, Neets’aii Gwich’in leader Sarah James has worked to protect her homelands, including …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Environment, National and Cultural Identity, Spiritual Exemplars
- CommentaryCelebrating Thich Nhat Hanh’s Influence on his 94th BirthdayThich Nhat Hanh’s 94th birthday—or continuation day—is Oct 11. In honor of the day, Plum Village monastics asked his friends and students to share short reflections on how Thay, as his followers …Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Engaged Spirituality, Religious Leadership, Spiritual Exemplars, weforum
- ArticleSwami Agnivesh: One of His Final Interviews in Caravan MagazineThis interview was originally published in The Caravan, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. It has been edited and condensed. *** On 11 September, Agnivesh, a swami in the Arya …Topics: Asia, Engaged Spirituality, Government and Religion, Hindus and Hinduism, Religious Extremism, Religious Leadership, Spiritual Exemplars
- CommentaryIt Takes a Community and Resources to Become an ExemplarI had the chance to meet with two exceptional women for the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture’s global project on engaged spirituality: Makvala Margoshvili and Marie Stella Kouak. They were …Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Engaged Spirituality, Faith-Based Organizations, Muslims and Islam, Nuns and Women Religious, Spiritual Exemplars, weforum
- ArticleMarie-Stella Kouak: The Togolese Nun Caring for AIDS Patients Amid COVID-19This article was originally published in The Guardian, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. Dapaong is a buzzing, multi-religious city, 13 miles south of Togo’s border with Burkina Faso and …Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, COVID, Engaged Spirituality, Healthcare, Nuns and Women Religious, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa
- ArticleFar from Being Anti-Religious, Faith and Spirituality Run Deep in Black Lives MatterThis article was originally published on The Conversation, and was written with Ann Gleig. Black Lives Matters (BLM) has been portrayed by its detractors as many things: Marxist, radical, anti-American. Added to …Topics: Creativity and Innovation, Engaged Spirituality, Protests and Uprisings, Race and Culture
- ArticleIndira Ranamagar: Nepalese Women in Prison Turn to AmaThis article was originally published in Indian Country Today, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. Our aunties are the same all over the world. They are the “go to” women …Topics: Asia, Criminal Justice, Economic Inequality, Engaged Spirituality, Gender, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleHow Covid-19 and the Fight Against Big Oil is Reviving One Alaskan People’s Spiritual TraditionsThis article was originally published in Religion News Service, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. ARCTIC VILLAGE, Alaska — Arriving home on one of the last regular flights before pandemic …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Environment, National and Cultural Identity, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleSamuel Chu: Hong Kong Issues Warrant for an American Citizen, Activist and Pastor’s SonThis article was originally published by Religion News Service and GroundTruth, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. On the morning of July 31, Samuel Chu, a Hong Kong …Topics: Asia, Engaged Spirituality, International Affairs and Policy, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleJulie Coyne: Creating A Community of Care in Highland GuatemalaOn any given afternoon, for the last 22 years, Julie Coyne has waited eagerly at the doorway to Education and Hope, green eyes twinkling. Children emerge from the surrounding streets dressed in …Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Economic Inequality, Education, Engaged Spirituality, Immigration, Latin America, Spiritual Exemplars, weforum
- ArticleMasue Katayama: Changing Nursing Care Industry in Japan with KindnessThis article was originally published in Religion News Service, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. YOKOHAMA, Japan (RNS) — In what used to be an elementary school in …Topics: Asia, Catholics and Catholicism, Engaged Spirituality, Healthcare, Spiritual Exemplars
“Pessimism, cynicism, despair—these words are not in the vocabulary of spiritual exemplars such as Sister Rosemary and Jean. Instead, I kept hearing the words hope, compassion and love. What really struck me was their entrepreneurial spirit in the face of poverty and trauma. Perhaps visionary action is an antidote to paralyzing anxiety and fear.”
— Donald E. Miller, Countering Pessimism and Despair: An Encounter with two Spiritual Exemplars
To schedule an interview with one of our experts, please contact CRCC:
email@example.com or 213-743-1611
- Hebah FarragAssistant Director of ResearchHebah Farrag manages the center’s research and evaluation projects while engaging in research focused on religion, social change and new spiritualties.
- Donald E. MillerDirector of Strategic InitiativesDonald Miller focuses on global religious trends, genocides of the 20th century, and the role of religious NGOs in addressing issues of moral concern.
- Arpi MillerContributing FellowArpi Miller is a sociologist who studies secular and faith-based immigrant advocacy and accompaniment.