Samuel Goldman, a scholar of the theological sources of political ideas and an assistant professor of political science in GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, has been named the inaugural director of the Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom at GW. He will work with Columbian College Dean Ben Vinson to advance the institute’s work in fostering dialogue on religious understanding and the separation of church and state and its role as a center for academic collaboration in religion, peace studies, history, political science, and other programs for scholars, students, educators, and the public.
“I am honored to be appointed director of the Loeb Institute,” said Professor Goldman of his selection. “As controversies about religious freedom proliferate in the United States and around the world, it is imperative to remember what George Washington called ‘inherent natural rights’ to liberty of conscience and equality under the law. GW’s unique location provides an extraordinary opportunity to apply insights from many scholarly disciplines to controversial issues, while drawing on the firsthand experience of politicians, civil servants, advocates and other practitioners.”
The Loeb Institute was established at GW through a $2.5 million gift from the John L. Loeb Jr. Foundation and the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom.
Since 2009, the New York City-based George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom, which former Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr. founded, has offered educational programs and partnered with national civic education organizations to reach tens of thousands of teachers and students in the United States and abroad. Those educational programs will be transferred to the Loeb Institute at GW, while the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom will continue to operate the Loeb Visitors Center at the Touro Synagogue National Historic Site in Newport, Rhode Island.
At GW, the Loeb Institute will focus on creating greater awareness of the nation’s historic roots of religious freedom, the separation of church and state, and the continuing relevance of the American tradition of religious diversity.
“We envision that the Loeb Institute will be transformational for our students and faculty as they address the pressing issues of religious diversity and freedom in contemporary society,” Dean Vinson said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Goldman to implement educational programs on and off the campus, collaborating with faculty across disciplines, leveraging our relationships with embassies, developing new programmatic initiatives, planning conferences and events, and engaging the broader community.”
Professor Goldman, who also leads GW’s Politics & Values Program, received his PhD in political science from Harvard University. Before coming to GW in 2013, he was a Tikvah Postdoctoral Fellow in Religion, Ethics & Politics at Princeton. He has published essays on historic figures including Tocqueville, Spinoza, and Leo Strauss, and is completing a book about Christian Zionism in American thought. In addition to his academic work, Goldman is a contributing editor at The American Conservative. Goldman’s writing has also appeared in National Review, Modern Age, New York Magazine, First Things, The New Criterion, and other publications.