Movement Engaged

Movement Engaged is dedicated to disciplined movement-engaged research relevant to social movement activists and policymakers.  Housed within the Center for Social Science Research, we are a hub where scholars, activists, and other partners within and beyond George Mason University combine their experience, knowledge and skills in creating ideas, understandings, networks, and infrastructure to renew social movement theory and practice. We work to deepen democracy in formal politics, the economy, and in the broader civil society.  Thus, through intentional engagement with community, constituency, and transnational organizations and networks, we seek to engender new visions, practices, relations, institutions, and systems that liberate human potential and emancipate our global society.

Our Initiatives:


Event Highlights:

Webinar | Human Rights, Ethics, and the Importance of Evidence-Based Research

Date: March 21, 2024

Time: 12pm to 1pm (1 Hour)

Location: Virtual on Zoom

The focal point of the webinar is the role of science in work on ethics and human rights. After outlining the intimate relationship between human rights and ethics, Prof. Kristen Renwick Monroe offers concrete illustrations of how empirical, evidence-based research plays a critical role in revealing important, often counter-intuitive, findings about human rights. Prof. Monroe’s trio of books on the study of altruism and moral choice (listed below) discovered how identity trumps choice, setting a menu of options that sets and delineates the range of choices found available cognitively, not just morally. The work exposed limitations in rational choice theory, the dominant theory in social science and one underlying economics, cost-benefit analysis, psychology, and evolutionary biology. It modified the traditional philosophical understanding of the importance of how we make moral choices, challenging assumptions underlying Utilitarianism and Kantian ethical theory.

Click link for more information.

News Announcement:

Mohamed Mohamed (PhD Candidate in Sociology) has been awarded the Student Paper Prizeat the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) annual conference. The winning paper, which is a chapter of Mohamed’s PhD dissertation (co-advisors: John Dale and Lester Kurtz), was originally presented at the BRISMES annual conference in July 2023. Here is an excerpt from the Prize Committee’s feedback on Mohamed’s paper:

“We had several excellent submissions to this year’s paper prize, but Mohamed Mohamed’s paper stood out as conceptually innovative and empirically rigorous. We were amazed at the precision and depth of the paper and expect it to offer an important contribution to Middle East Studies, as it literally changes the way we think about domestic religious establishments and their global partners and influence.” 

Paper Title

Selling God: Al-Azhar, UAE and Transubstantiation of Religious Capital

Paper Abstract

The intersection between al-Azhar and global politics has been largely overlooked by scholars, creating a gap in the literature. This paper aims to fill this gap by exploring the relationship between al-Azhar and the dynamics of politics from a transnational lens, based on interviews with officials at al-Azhar Sheikhdom, Al-Azhar University, and Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism. The study examines how the UAE has been instrumentalizing al-Azhar’s ‘religious capital’ to advance its foreign policy efforts against political Islam and position itself as a major advocate of ‘peace’ in the region. The paper argues that the Emirati instrumentalization of al-Azhar’s ‘religious capital’ has taken various forms, including appointing Imam al-Tayyeb as the chairman of the UAE-based Muslim Council of Elders, sponsoring the establishment of the Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism and relying on Azharite Ulama in its ‘peace-based’ initiatives, which have been at the forefront of Emirati foreign policy for over a decade. Moreover, the paper highlights the intricate reciprocity between al-Azhar and the UAE, manifested in substantial financial assistance and Grand Imam al-Tayyeb’s close rapport with the Emirati leadership, which has facilitated a partial reframing of the institutional relationship between al-Azhar and the Egyptian state.


Movement Engaged


Interested in joining the Movement Engaged Research Hub?

Please contact or John Dale at