World Faiths Development Dialogue Research Fellows

World Faiths Development Dialogue Research Fellows

By Jennifer Cimaglia (WFDD Fellow)

The World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) bridges between the worlds of faith and secular development by bringing to light the efforts of faith-inspired individuals and organizations working to address global poverty and humanitarian challenges. Its central objectives are to focus on the synergies and common purpose of religions and development institutions addressing poverty, and to explore issues where there is little consensus and where common ground is unclear.

In 2009, WFDD began an investigation into the ways in which faith-inspired organizations, faith leaders, and individual religious belief, were bearing on development challenges in Cambodia, a historically Buddhist country experiencing rapid and profound changes in its patterns of religious identification and practice in the wake of the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge. Since commencing their program in Cambodia, WFDD has produced three major publications,"Faith-Inspired Organizations and Development in Cambodia," "Indigenous Spirituality in Cambodia: Implications for Development

Programming," and "Faith-Inspired Organizations and Global Development Policy: A Background Review ‘Mapping’ Social and Economic Development Work in Southeast Asia." The WFDD website also hosts a Cambodia Interview Series with a number of practitioners and a blog

WFDD has a close relationship with the University of Cambodia (UC). Its Cambodia offices reside within the University’s, and WFDD’s Director, Katherine Marshall, is a visiting professor at the University, which she visits bi-annually to conduct workshops and presentations to UC faculty and students. WFDD and the University of Cambodia will continue to support each other on future projects and in upcoming months. They will be organizing jointly a series of brown bag lunches, panel discussions, and conferences to present their work in Cambodia and provide a forum for dialogue around religion and development. WFDD is also discussing the possibility of working with Southeast Asia Radio (SEARadio, FM 106) and Southeast Asia Television (SEATV, Channel 31), and is planning future projects with the UC based research program, the Asia Faiths Development Dialogue.

WFDD currently has two research fellows in Cambodia, Nathaniel Adams and Jennifer Cimaglia. Nathaniel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University and completed his Master’s in International Development at Lund University in 2010. While completing his thesis research on the interrelation of culture and agriculture in Nepal, he worked in the culture unit at UNESCO’s office in Kathmandu. He is currently editing a second working paper, Pagoda-NGO partnerships. Jennifer Cimaglia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed her Master’s in Buddhist Studies at the University of Hong Kong in 2011. Prior to undertaking her Master’s, Jenny spent one year working in the culture unit at UNESCO’s field office in Hanoi, Vietnam, as a Henry Luce Scholar. Her current research will focus on the intersection of faith-based actors and maternal health, and a second research topic of education and faith in Cambodia.