About The Comparison Project

The Comparison Project enacts a global philosophy of religion in the local Des Moines community.
The Comparison Project’s speaker and dialogue series at Drake University tracks a common philosophical theme through diverse religious traditions. Scholars and practitioners of religion explore the theme from the perspective of particular religious traditions. Comparative philosophers of religion then raise questions of significance about the theme in comparative perspective.

The Comparison Project also features online guides to, digital stories by, and photos of local Des Moines religious communities. Through a series of “Religions of Des Moines” classes at Drake University, students work with local religious practitioners to create digital stories about their meaningful practices and beliefs. These stories are housed on The Comparison Project website along with guides to and photos of these communities.


Aims of The Comparison Project

The Comparison Project began as a means of bringing greater awareness to the religious diversity of Des Moines through a series of interfaith dialogues.  As such, its aims included educating the community at Drake and in Des Moines about diversity between and within religions, as well as providing a forum in which local religious congregations could dialogue on issues of religious and community import.

Since then, The Comparison Project added a third aim to its core programing and also developed an auxiliary initiative. The Comparison Project’s speaker series in comparative philosophy of religion aims to transform the academic field of philosophy of religion by considering the practices and beliefs of all religious traditions, not just modern-western religion. And our Religions of Des Moines classes seek not only to introduce Drake students to the religions of the world through their local communities of practice but also to provide the Des Moines community with a set of resources about their religions.

People of The Comparison Project 

Our director is Tim Knepper, professor of philosophy at Drake University; Leah Kalmanson, assistant professor of philosophy, serves as co-director.

The other members of Drake’s religion faculty help plan our events and serve on our board: Jennifer Harvey, professor of religion; and Brad Crowell, associate professor of religion.

Our advisory board is also comprised by several members of the community: Sarai Rice, executive director of the Des Moines Area Religious Council; Richard Deming, medical director of the Mercy Cancer Center and founder and chairman of Above + Beyond Cancer; and Osman Arslan, executive director of the Niagara Foundation of Iowa.

Drake students Matt Becke, Nathan Jacobson, Shea Seiff, and Chamindi Wijesinghe are our research assistants.

Carla Herling designed our website; Kayla Jenkins now maintains it.


Comparison Project Funding

The Comparison Project is generously supported by the following donors: