News

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a three-year, $1 million grant to the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion (VCSR) to advance its efforts to connect the academic study of religion, theological inquiry and public discourse.

The “Religion and its Publics” proposal, submitted by Prof. Charles Mathewes and Associate Prof. Paul Dafydd Jones of the Department of Religious Studies, aims to bring together scholars from multiple disciplines to develop a groundbreaking approach to understanding religion’s role in the contemporary world, while working to connect groundbreaking research with matters of public concern.

Mathewes and Jones will serve as co-directors of the project, which will include a graduate-level seminar, a series of public lectures, and a series of annual conferences that draw on a diversity of scholars from around the world. The deeply collaborative project will involve at least 80 participants from across the United States, including tenure-track or tenured faculty, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and figures from the media and public life.

Listen to a recent interview with Professor Matt Hedstrom about the spirituality of millenials on With Good Reason, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Read about Professor Nichole Flores's College Advising Seminar, which was featured in UVA Today's "First-Class Access" article.

Read the College of Arts & Sciences' introduction of Professors Jessica Andruss, Michael Allen, and Natasha Heller, the three new faculty members in Religious Studies, along with other new Arts & Sciences faculty members.

The Department of Religious Studies is pleased to welcome Professor Michael Allen to the faculty. He works on the intersections of philosophy and religious practice in South Asia, drawing on both Sanskrit and vernacular sources, with wider interests in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. He explores ways in which South Asian perspectives, taken seriously on their own terms, can inform contemporary understandings of human beings and their place in the world.

Professor Sonam Kachru, who began teaching in the Department last fall, works in the history of philosophy, with special attention to the history of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia. He is currently working on two book length monographs: one on the philosopher Vasubandhu, and his monograph in Twenty Verses; and another on the Buddhist poet Asvaghosa, and his narrative lyric, Beautiful Nanda.

Professor Vanessa Ochs, along with Professor Denise Walsh of Politics and WGS and four graduate students, was awarded a Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Grant for research on "Increasing the Civic and Political Participation of Women" from USAID and the Institute for International Education. They will be exploring the questions: What are the most effective ways to encourage women’s civic (e.g., volunteer, advocacy, etc.) and political (e.g., voting, running for office) participation? What are the risks to women of these strategies in contexts where resistance to changing gender norms is strong?

The department is pleased to welcome Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of the University of Cambridge for this weekend lecture series. 

Related lectures may be found here.

Professors David Germano and Kurtis Schaeffer's online Coursera course, "Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World: Lesser Vehicle," explores "the immense variety of meditation practices past and present. We present their histories, their philosophical underpinnings, their transformations in the modern global world, and we give you a chance to reflect upon meditation practices through secular contemplations designed just for this course." For more on the course, please visit <https://www.coursera.org/learn/buddhist-meditation>.

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