University of Notre Dame
Hesburgh Center/Kellogg Institute Hesburgh Center/Kellogg Institute Hesburgh Center/Kellogg Institute Hesburgh Center/Kellogg Institute Hesburgh Center/Kellogg Institute Hesburgh Center/Kellogg Institute

Rev. Robert Dowd, CSCRev. Robert Dowd, CSC

Associate Professor of Political Science
Director, Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity
(PhD, University of California at Los Angeles, 2003)
214 Hesburgh Center

Geographic focus: Sub-Saharan Africa

Thematic interests: African politics; religion and politics; ethnic conflict and peace building; political parties and party systems; comparative democratization

Current research:

  • Religious Leaders as Political Activists in African Elections. In collaboration with political scientists Clark Gibson (UC-San Diego), a Kellogg Distinguished Research Affiliate, and Brigitte Zimmerman (UNC-Charlotte), this project examines the variation in the extent to which religious leaders embed political messages in sermons during election campaigns and the effects of such messages on the political attitudes and behaviors of religious communities. The project will initially focus on Zambia and document the tone, language, and slant of political messages embedded in sermons in 120 randomly selected churches during the month leading up to Zambia’s presidential and parliamentary elections in August 2016. (Supported by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.)

  • Saints, Sinners, and Citizens: The Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Sub-Saharan Africa. Conducted with political scientist Ani Sarkissian (Michigan State University) and theologian and Kellogg Faculty Fellow Rev. Paul Kollman, CSC, this project is intended to assess whether the Catholic Charismatic Movement is decreasing or increasing political engagement, tolerance of different ethnic and religious groups, support for basic freedoms, and support for democratic institutions in three countries, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. (Supported by the John Templeton Foundation through the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California.)

  • Does Religion Matter? The Impact of Religious Networks on Health-Enhancing Behavior in Africa: In collaboration with University of Virginia economist Molly Lipscomb, this project uses a randomized controlled trial in 185 villages in western Uganda to assess whether local religious leaders or local governmental leaders are more effective at (1) getting local people to purchase water purification tablets for their household drinking water and (2) targeting those in most need with discount coupons to buy the tablets. (Supported by the John Templeton Foundation, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.)

Selected publications:

  • “Violent Religious Extremism and US–Africa Policy,” in “Faith, Freedom, and Foreign Policy,” special issue, The Review of Faith & International Affairs 14, 2 (2016)

  • Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa (Oxford University Press, 2015)

  • “Religious Diversity and Religious Tolerance: Evidence from Nigeria,” Journal of Conflict Resolution (OnLine First, September 23, 2014)

  • “Religious Diversity and Violent Conflict: Lessons from Nigeria,” Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 38, 1 (Winter 2014)

  • “Christianity, Islam and Political Culture in Africa: The Case of Nigeria,” in Edmond Keller, ed., Religion, Religious Institutions and Politics in Africa (University of South Africa Press, 2012)

  • “Muslim Women, Political Discourse and Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures (Brill Academic Publishers, 2005)




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