About The Comparison Project

Our Mission

We are a Drake University (Department of Philosophy and Religion) center for the practice of comparative philosophy of religion, the understanding of local-lived religion, and the cultivation of interfaith literacy and leadership.

Our Vision

We seek to enrich impoverished understandings of religious diversity and to strengthen enfeebled practices of interfaith engagement.

Our Programming 

Our Religions of Des Moines Initiatives seek to bring greater awareness and understanding of the diverse religious communities of greater Des Moines. This is achieved through several different means:

  • “Religions of Des Moines” courses
  • Online guides to local religious communities
  • Student-facilitated digital stories about local practitioners’ faith experiences
  • A student-written photo narrative about fifteen religious communities in greater Des Moines (A Spectrum of Faith), and
  • An ongoing series of “Meet My Religious Neighbor” open houses at local religious communities.

Our Lecture and Dialogue Series in comparative philosophy of religion explores a different religious theme every two years through scholar lectures, practitioner dialogues, and comparative conclusions. Each series’ lectures and conclusions are published through a book-series publishing contract with the international publisher Springer. Each semester a Drake University course in Comparative Religion accompanies the series.

We also now cultivate Interfaith Literacy and Leadership with college and high-school students through a Drake University student group, a class in interfaith understanding and engagement, and a yearly interfaith youth camp. Soon we hope to establish a minor in interfaith studies.

Our People

Our director is Tim Knepper, Professor of Philosophy at Drake University; Leah Kalmanson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, is our co-director.

Melissa Harris assists with our Meet My Religious Neighbor open houses; Pete de Kock, with community partnerships and relations.

Sarah Trone Garriott and Luke Elzinga at the Des Moines Area Religious Council help out with interfaith engagement and communications.

Our advisory board is also comprised by many members from our campus and community:

Our Drake research assistant this year is Shea Seiff.

Carla Herling designed our website; Kayla Jenkins and Monique Rodriguez now maintain it.

Our Funding 

The Comparison Project is generously supported by the following donors:


We are always looking for help!  Contact comparisonproject@drake.edu if interested.


There is so much more that we can do!  What prevents this most is money.  If you want to support our programming, please do so here: https://alumni.drake.edu/comparisonprojectsupport

Learn More

This summer (2017) we wrote a TCP Strategic Plan and TCP Balanced Scorecard. If you want to know about some of our future plans, check out these documents.