The city of Salem, Mass., has opened a memorial to commemorate the people who were convicted and killed during its notorious series of "witch trials" in 1692. The memorial stands at the site where 19 innocent women and men were hanged. The research of Ben Ray, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, was instrumental in determining the precise location of the hangings. Professor Ray can be seen in the front row of the memorial dedication ceremonies in the second picture included in this report from NPR. His recent book, Satan and Salemis a product of his extensive research in the area. 

Faculty member writes on environment and evangelicals: Over the past decade a growing number of US evangelicals have come to regard the very idea of climate change as a threat to their identity, presenting climate discourse as a cultural attack on the embattled Christian identity. Willis Jenkins argues that we should view this climate denial not as the result of a religious narrative, but as a way of avoiding accountability for polluting the atmosphere. Read his recent piece on the London School of Economics’ Religion and the Public Sphere blog."


Six fabulous courses in Religious Studies are being offered this summer! All provide a great opportunity to work closely with some of our best teachers in a more relaxed seminar format — and they are an efficient way to fulfill your requirements in a shorter time frame. Find out more here.

UVA Today article on award-winning teachers highlights Religious Studies Professor Greg Schmidt Goering's teaching and his award of the NEH Daniels Family Distinguished Teaching Professorship.

Read about Professor Vanessa Ochs' research on the evolution of modern rituals in UVA Today.

Just funded under the Mellon Humanities Lab Program of the College of Arts and Sciences is a lab on ‘Dissecting Cultural Pluralism: Religion and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean,’ to be conducted under the auspices of the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC) for the academic years 2017–18 and 2018–19. The fourteen faculty participants include members of the Departments of Art, Classics, History, and Religious Studies; there will be abundant opportunities for participation by graduate students. The Directors of the Lab are John Miller (Classics) and Janet Spittler (Religious Studies). This Lab will involve overlapping collaborations on three themes: religious pluralism; sacred cities; legacies and lessons. Activities will include course development, visiting lectures, conferences, and support for graduate student and faculty research. The Lab will occupy space in Wilson Hall in proximity to the IHGC.

Professors Peter Ochs and Jerry White received funding for a Religion, Politics, and Conflict Lab (RPC) that aims to produce cutting-edge research into the nature, causes, and solutions to religion-related, violent conflicts anywhere in the world. Promoting unprecedented, collaborative research among scholars from a diverse range of sciences, from data science, systems engineering, quantum logic, to literature, history, and religion, it seeks to design a procedure and to prepare it for field-testing while at the same time training students in mixed quantitative-qualitative methods that can be directly applied to real-world problems.

The Board of Visitors recently awarded funds from UVA’s Strategic Investment Fund to the Department of Religious Studies for a Global Religion Lab (GRL), headed by Professors Martien Halvorson-Taylor and Kurtis Schaeffer.  Hosted by the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, the GRL will focus on the place of religion in the formation of the person and the political on a global scale.

Professor Vanessa Ochs gave a lecture entitled "Curating Jewishhess in American Domestic Space: Recent Ethnographic Explorations" at Tel Aviv University on December 15, 2016.



This past summer Associate Professor of Religious Studies John Nemec was invited as a "Directeur d'études invité" to deliver a series of lectures at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. Professor Nemec, who works primarily on Indian intellectual and cultural history, lectured on the Kashmiri Pratyabhijñā School. Félicitations to Professor Nemec on this honor and achievement.