Global Institutions of Religion: Ancient Movers, Modern Shakers, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Global Institutions of Religion

Ancient Movers, Modern Shakers, 1st Edition

By Katherine Marshall


240 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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This work fills a significant gap in the current literature by providing a concise introduction to religious institutions and an insightful analysis of their role in world affairs.

Focusing on formal institutions specifically dedicated to governing religious communities, the work examines the intersections between religious and other global institutions, set against the fundamental question: why and how do these intersections matter?

The work explores the role of religion within key issues including

  • Human rights
  • Human security
  • International development and humanitarian relief
  • Climate change
  • Moral responsibilities

The new forms that religious institutions are taking, their fit with human rights and democratic ideals, their changing nature in plural societies, are a highly relevant part of the global institutional picture and this book is essential reading for all students and scholars of global institutions, international relations and religion.


It is a paradox, that at a time when religiously motivated groups use violence to achieve perverse objectives, the potential of the world's diverse religious traditions and institutions to contribute to peace and development is largely ignored. With this book, Katherine Marshall, one of the first international development specialists who has emphasized the critical importance of religion in global development, provides anyone working in international affairs with an outstanding introduction to and analysis of a topic that is far too important to ignore.

Michel Camdessus, Former Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

Faith and globalisation are two of the world's most powerful contemporary forces; the dynamics and contours of religion form today an integral part of international relations. Yet how much do we understand about how religions work as global institutions? And when you ring up Global Catholicism and Global Islam who is at the switchboard and to whom should you talk? This is a clear, helpful and deeply informed guidebook for those wise enough to recognise the transformative power of the world faiths in the 21st. Century.

Ian Linden, Policy Director of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and Associate Professor in the study of religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

This book provides a welcome corrective to the religious illiteracy that has for too long marked the study and conduct of policy-making in relation to the world’s poorer countries. Katherine Marshall has provided a superb mapping and analysis of the world’s main religions, religious movements, and myriad faith-inspired organizations, and the part they have played in recent times in advancing human development (or in some cases not). She also analyses succinctly the unresolved issues which prevent religious organizations from working more productively alongside non-religious actors, especially governments and international institutions such as the World Bank. Her book should be required reading for all students and practitioners of development.

Sir Tim Lankester, Honorary fellow at School of African and Oriental Studies, UK.

Goaded by events like the HIV and AIDS pandemic and terrorist attacks, there is mounting interest in religion among international relations specialists. However, the world of religious institutions is so complex that for many it is difficult to know where to start in making sense of different entities. Katherine Marshall's book is a carefully researched and readable introduction to how many religious and interfaith institutions work, informed by practical experience. It highlights the critical roles that they play in global affairs and, still more, their potential to work for peace, social justice, and the welfare of humankind.

Gunnar Stålset, former Bishop of Oslo, Norway.

This indispensable briefing book for policymakers, diplomats, and concerned citizens is chock full of fascinating information about the formal and informal religious institutions that are helping to shape international events.

Robert Klitgaard, University Professor at Claremont Graduate University, where he served as the President from 2005 to 2009.

Table of Contents

1. Religion: An institutional portrait 2. Global Religious Bodies 3. "Faith-inspired Organizations at work 4. The World of Global Interfaith 5. Religious "Movements" 6. Emerging Issues and Future Directions

About the Author

Katherine Marshall is a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University and Visiting Professor in the Government Department. As a long time development specialist focused on the world’s poorest countries, she worked for over 35 years with the World Bank and continues to serve as a senior advisor. For the past decade she has focused her work on issues around the links between development and religion. She is a visiting professor at the University of Cambodia, and is a member of the International Niwano Peace Prize selection committee.

About the Series

Global Institutions

The "Global Institutions Series" is edited by Thomas G. Weiss (The CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA) and Rorden Wilkinson (University of Sussex, UK).

The Series has two "streams" identified by their covers:

  • Blue covers offer comprehensive, accessible, and informative guides to the history, structure, and activities of key international organizations, and introductions to topics of key importance in contemporary global governance. Recognized experts use a similar structure to address the general purpose and rationale for specific organizations along with historical developments, membership, structure, decision-making procedures, key functions, and an annotated bibliography and guide to electronic sources.
  • Red covers consist of research monographs and edited collections that advance knowledge about one aspect of global governance; they reflect a wide variety of intellectual orientations, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches.

Together these streams provide a coherent and complementary portrait of the problems, prospects, and possibilities confronting global institutions today.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General