Baltimore is a divided city, what Dr. Lawrence Brown refers to as a Black Butterfly and White L in which “the white neighborhoods on the map that form the shape of an 'L' accumulate structured advantages, while Black neighborhoods, shaped in the form of a butterfly, accumulate structured disadvantages.” This disparity demands dialogue and change. Baltimore’s diverse and historically robust religious communities can play an important role in future engagements with the city’s most pressing social justice issues.
As part of this dialogue, Morgan’s public philosophy and religious studies scholarship has focused on Baltimore City’s continued struggle with racism, violence, discriminatory policing, income disparities, education gaps, poor housing conditions, food deserts, disparities in health and access to healthcare, as well as other issues.
This center’s vision for engaging the city’s most pressing issues thus emerged from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies’ public scholarship initiatives, including work by the Public Life Committee. Designated by the state legislature as Maryland’s premier public urban research university, our work at Morgan State University is informed by commitments to “collaborative pursuits, scholarly research, creative endeavors, and public service, giving priority to addressing societal issues, particularly those prevalent in urban communities.”
Within this context, the Center for the Study of Religion and the City (CSRC) will seek to inspire, shape, and support scholarly engagements with the city that bridge gaps and partner with diverse religious groups, scholars, activists, community organizations, and policymakers. Toward this end, the center will invite and organize researchers from diverse disciplines and institutions, non-academic partners, undergraduate students, and potential graduate students to develop proposals for and participate in the following activities:
 Research Grants that will help support individual and small group research on religion and the city
 Public Theology Projects that engage specific social justice issues and that promote innovative means of theologically engaging the city
 Student Scholarships that will encourage a new generation of scholars at an HBCU to pursue publicly engaged work on religion and the city
 Public Programming, including an annual CSRC conference, colloquia, and workshops to help disseminate findings from the center’s supported activities and from other leading scholars on religion and cities and which would also serve as forums for feedback from and engagement with diverse Baltimore publics
 Travel Grants for graduate students and junior faculty to attend the annual CSRC conference and help promote research on religion and cities among national audiences
Harold D. Morales