Advancing creative and critical scholarship on religion in the world


The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) advances creative and critical scholarship on religion. BCSR faculty research, public programming, and graduate training drive new approaches to the study of religion and its intellectual and material contexts. Through its media platforms and engagement with local and global audiences, BCSR disseminates this innovative work for critical reflection and public discussion.

Since its founding in 2012-2013, BCSR has become a preeminent global nexus for the study of religion, uniting leading scholars from an array of disciplines in BCSR’s flagship initiative, Religion in the World.

Religion in the World investigates the worldly contexts of religious thought and practice, examining the mutual influence of the spiritual and the material in areas like theology, law, politics, and art. Through initiatives such as the Berkeley Public Theology Program, the Berkeley Seminars in Art and Religion, the annual Lecture on Religious Tolerance, and the Yeary Endowment for Ethics in the Humanities, BCSR connects the Berkeley scholarly community with leading international thinkers, writers, and artists to investigate the past and present roles of religion in the world.

A joint initiative of the UC Berkeley Deans of Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences, BCSR is led by two co-directors: Profs. David Marno (English, Arts and Humanities) and Karen Barkey (Sociology, Social Sciences).

Co-directors are advised by an appointed board. Currently, the members are Robert Braun (Sociology), Charles Hirschkind (Anthropology), Asma Kazmi (Art Practice), Niklaus Largier (German), Stefania Pandolfo (Anthropology), Joanna Picciotto (English), Jonathan Sheehan (History), and Ronit Y. Stahl (History).

The transformative work of BCSR has been supported by the UC Berkeley Deans of Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences, the Endowed Fund for the Study of Religious Tolerance, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the generosity of individual donors. You can support BCSR here.