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Rev. Robert Dowd, CSCRev. Robert Dowd, CSC

Assistant 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: Africa

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

Current research:

  • Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Based on fieldwork conducted in Nigeria, Uganda, and Senegal, this study assesses the impact of religious observance on political actions and attitudes among ordinary Muslims and Christians. (Supported by the John Templeton Foundation, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.)

  • Explaining Voter Turnout in Uganda in 2011: In collaboration with Clark Gibson, Karen Ferree, and Danielle Jung of UC-San Diego, a field experiment was conducted to assess the effectiveness of messages intended to encourage Ugandans to vote in the February 2011 election. Preliminary findings indicate that some messages do have a more positive impact on the decisions of certain demographic groups than others. (Supported by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and UC San Diego‚Äôs International Studies Program.)

  • Does Religion Matter? The Impact of Religious Networks on Health-Enhancing Behavior in Africa: A randomized field experiment conducted in collaboration with University of Virginia economist Molly Lipscomb, this project investigates whether 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 Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.)

  • The Roman Catholic Charismatic Movement in Sub-Saharan Africa: Its Causes and Consequences:. Conducted with theologian 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. We are conducting in-depth interviews and a mass survey of Charismatic Catholics, non-Charismatic Catholics, and non-Catholic Pentecostals in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. (Supported by the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California.)

Selected publications:

  • God and Democracy in Africa (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

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

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


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