Director of Research
Bye-Fellow, St Edmund's College
Senior Lecturer in International Politics, City University London
Affiliated Lecturer, POLIS Department, Cambridge
A Senior Lecturer in Religion and International Politics at City University London, Sara is also Affiliated Lecturer with the POLIS Department at Cambridge University and Director of Studies in Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) and bye-Fellow at St Edmund's College.
Sara holds a PhD and an MPhil from the CIS (now part of the POLIS Department), Cambridge University, where she also completed her ESRC-Postdoctoral Fellowship. She previously earned a Laurea degree from La Sapienza University (Rome), studied EU migration policies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, trained in church-state relations as a Marie Curie Fellow in Paris (Univ.Paris Sud & Institut Catholique), and worked as a journalist. She has also taught Islamic political thought at the Muslim College in Cambridge and at Bristol University.
Sara has consulted extensively for the EU, the UN, Caritas Internationalis, the British Council, the Anna Lindh Foundation, the British Government and other governments and institutions in her areas of expertise. She also frequently appears in the media and has been a guest speaker at prestigious institutions including the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, Brookings, Oxford University, LSE, ULB, NYU, university of Aix-en-Provence, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian Federal Government.
In 2001-02 she worked in the European Commission President's cabinet on intercultural relations and the Euro-Mediterranean region. Between 2006 and 2008 she led the Islam in Europe programme at the European Policy Centre in Brussels and was an associate fellow with Chatham House in London.
A VHI Research Associate since 2006, Dr Silvestri leads the research stream on and a project on religion and migration funded by the Plater Trust.
Sara is an interdisciplinary social scientist concerned with the growing relevance of political theologies, faith-based identities and movements in global politics and their engagement with secular institutions.
Her research and publications focus on Religion and International Affairs, Islam in Europe, and issues at the intersection between migration, multiculturalism, terrorism, and security with a focus on the Euro-Mediterranean region. She is also interested in interfaith relations and ecumenism.
Sara is the recipient of several research grants. Her most recent projects include an ESRC-funded comparison of the impact of British counterterrorism on Irish and Muslim communities in Britain; the evolution of the EU policies' attention to religion (NORFACE funded); two projects on the role of religion in foreign policy and in conflict and peacemaking (involving respectively the British Council, the FCO, Brookings, and Wilton Park and the British Academy and DfID); and the Catholic contribution to addressing migration crises (ongoing, funded by Plater Trust).
Until 2015 Sara convened the BISA working group on Religion, Security and International Relations and she is currently Treasurer of the REL (Religion) section of the International Studies Association.