News

The department is pleased to welcome Nichole Flores, who has begun teaching courses this Fall term. Dr. Flores is the 2015 recipient of the Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award for her essay, "Beyond Consumptive Solidarity: An Aesthetic Response to Modern Day Slavery." Further information on Dr. Flores may be found on her individual web site here, and her faculty page here

Recently Professor Erik Braun gave the keynote lecture at the graduate symposium of the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA. Click here for more information.

Professor Karl Shuve, specialist in early and medieval Christianity, is interviewed in a recent article adressing the "Nashville Statment," which was written and signed by a number of prominent Evangelical Christians this past week. Professor Shuve responds, “This is not a document that is seriously interested with the witnesses of the Christian past, nor is it interested in engaging seriously with the issues underlying marriage and gender identities of the present.” Read the article here

 

 

An Open Letter from the Department of Religious Studies in Response to the Events of August 11th and 12th

The Department of Religious Studies denounces the violence and terror perpetrated by the gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA on August 11th and 12th, 2017. As a faculty, we are particularly horrified that our University Grounds were used to promote this agenda and that students, who were exercising their constitutionally protected right to protest, were physically attacked a short distance from their dormitories.

The Department of Religious Studies rejects the white supremacist ideology of intolerance and its practice of hateful speech, as well as the violence it engenders. We stand in solidarity with the victims of these events and with those who courageously resisted the hate groups and their virulent messages; we stand with the community of Charlottesville and with all those at whom hate continues to be directed. We cherish the diversity of our student body and commit ourselves to supporting students who are targeted by hate groups. We promise to be available to students who seek support from us, even as we actively develop new initiatives to support them.

As a department, we advocate for no single religious faith or political point of view. Our faculty comprises scholars who practice different religions or no religion at all. Our professors, all of whom serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, hold a range of political views. Those who are American citizens vote their consciences individually in elections, for a wide array of political parties. Amid this political and national diversity, we stand united in our unanimous and unequivocal condemnation of those who promote hate, by way of violent speech and action—the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, the neo-Fascists, the anti-Semites. And we regard this condemnation as the expression of a simple, moral truth rather than a political statement.

We must not hesitate to name and condemn the intimidation, terror, and violence that convulsed and profaned our city and university this weekend. We consider the groups who organized and participated in the “Unite the Right” rally to be hate groups. We do not take their views to represent a legitimate, alternative political perspective: they are dangerous, and they perpetuate what is universally condemned by all the world’s religions and ethical systems. We feel morally compelled to call out those who afflicted our community with their night-time mob on the University’s Grounds and with their violence on our city’s streets the following day. Burning torches, aggressive chanting, and racist, homophobic, and antisemitic slogans echo the symbolism, and messages, of Nazi-era Germany and of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. This is not a time for equivocation. We stand firmly and explicitly against the views and actions of those espousing hate, terror, and violence in Charlottesville over this past weekend, and any other day.

The final episode of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly features Professor Vanessa Ochs reflecting on religious practices and rituals.

Professor Charles Mathewes was selected to be a College Fellow in UVA's College of Arts and Sciences College Fellows Program. He joins Religious Studies Professors Janet Spittler and Ahmed al-Rahim, who were selected for last year's inaugural class of fellows. See this announcement for more information.

In January 2017, the College of Arts and Sciences and Contemplative Sciences Center at UVA will partner with Kohala Institute in Hawai'i to offer an opportunity to study a unique environment and culture from two very different disciplinary perspectives- Environmental Sciences and Religious Studies - with a strong emphasis on highly experiential education and of self-understanding. The Ecological & Contemplative Landscapes course, which will be offered at UVA in Hawai'i as a two week J-Term course, is an immersive education program designed and taught by Manuel Lerdau from Environmental Sciences, David Germano from Religious Studies and Leslie Hubbard from CSC. 

This course integrates unique and highly experiential blends of learning activities integrating environmental science, religious studies, and contemplative sciences. It is based at Kohala Institute on the Big Island in Hawai’i, a remarkable property proceeding from the ocean to mountains, which constitutes a traditional Hawai’i land unit on environment, economic, social and political grounds - an ahupua’a.  The class brings together classical scientific approaches to human/land/sea relations, and integrates these approaches into traditional humanistic perspectives on humans, their cultures, religion, and environments.  The class blends historical, philosophical, and natural science views of the world and explores this blending in the context of traditional and modern Hawai’ian culture and environment.  The class will also explore cognitive, affective, and somatic contemplative practices of self understanding and development, and integrate these into the broader themes of the profound interdependence of culture and environment.

See here for more information and here for registration.

Congratulations to Martien Halvorson-Taylor, associate professor of religious studies, who was recently honored with an All-University Teaching Award. Professor Halvorson-Taylor, who teaches Hebrew Bible and related topics, was among the nine faculty members from across the university recognized for teaching exellence. 

Professor Jennifer Geddes delivered the 22nd Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on November 1st. Professor Geddes's work focuses on ethics, evil, and Holocaust testimony. 

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