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FSU student of religion and law wins renowned Newcombe Fellowship

A Florida State University doctoral candidate in Religion has received the renowned Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Elizabeth Barre

Elizabeth Barre, finishing her final year of dissertation writing in law and religion, has been selected a Newcombe Fellow—an honor that recognizes graduate students who have an interest in the study of ethical or religious values.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be awarded such a prestigious fellowship. It is easily the most important graduate award one can receive in our field," Barre said. "The applicant pool is usually quite large and I've known numerous well-qualified candidates who have not even made their way to the round of finalists."

Barre impressed the Newcombe selection committee by addressing liberalism and its potential to bridge the gap between the "exceptionally" conservative Catholic and Islamic faiths.

"Ms. Barre's comparative study of religious ethics focuses on the ways religions shape conceptions of morality, politics and law," John Kelsay, professor of Religion at FSU. "Ms. Barre's work on political liberalism will be a significant contribution to this field of study."

Appropriately titled, "Reconciled to Liberty: Catholics, Muslims, and the Possibility of Overlapping Consensus," Barre's work showcased her ability to handle a controversial and cross-cultural analysis.

"My initial response to her dissertation topic was that it was ambitious, imaginative, and cutting edge, and a topic for which she was superbly equipped," said Sumner Twiss, Distinguished Professor of Human Rights, Ethics and Religion at FSU. "I have sat on the Religion Selection Panel for the Newcombe Fellowship, and I thought that Elizabeth's project had an excellent chance of making it to the final stage."

Currently, Barre is a visiting fellow at the highly regarded Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. The 12-month award of $23,000 she will receive as a Newcombe Fellow will go towards funding her final year of dissertation writing at Emory's research institute; where her husband is an assistant professor of Political Science.

"In the long run, I hope to secure a tenure-track faculty appointment in religious studies at a university where my husband and I can both pursue our various research and teaching goals."

For more information on the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and to view the other recipients of the Newcombe Fellowship, go to

By Jonathan Wallace


"Ms. Barre's work on political liberalism will be a significant contribution to this field of study."

John Kelsay
FSU Department of Religion