Professor to Advise State Department on Religion and Global Affairs

George Mason University professor Peter Mandaville has been appointed as a senior advisor to the special representative for religion and global affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Among other duties, he will help craft aspects of the U.S. diplomatic strategy for dealing with rising sectarianism in the Middle East.

Working out of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs—part of Secretary of State John Kerry’s office—Mandaville will also help to build the State Department’s capacity for understanding and addressing the interface of religion and international affairs.

“My work will focus on religious actors and religion more broadly as a societal force in the context of advancing U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic priorities,” he says.

Mandaville is a professor of government and politics at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government and is co-director of Mason’s Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies. While he is on leave with the State Department, Mason religious studies professor Maria Dakake will assume duties as co-director of the center, along with history and art history professor Huseyin Yilmaz.

“I’m looking forward to representing the university during this period of government service and sharing my experiences with students when I get back,” Mandaville says, estimating his term to be about two years.

This is Mandaville’s second tour of duty at the State Department. In 2011-12 he served as a member of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff and held a portfolio focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East and South Asia.

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