The University of California, Berkeley hosts a world-renowned group of faculty with rich expertise in the religious traditions of the world. Across departments as diverse as Anthropology, Linguistics, History, English, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Comparative Literature, Near Eastern Studies, and many more, scholars make Berkeley one of the nation’s great places for studying and teaching about religion in all of its diverse forms. A joint initiative of the Deans of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) brings this community of scholars together.
BSCR is led by two co-directors, one each from Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences, who serve three-year terms. The directors are Profs. Jonathan Sheehan (History, Social Sciences, 2012-16) and Mark Csikszentmihalyi (East Asian Languages and Cultures, Humanities, 2012-16). Prof. Ethan Shagan (History, Humanities) was a co-director in 2012 and Susanna Elm was interim director in 2015-16.
Co-directors are advised by an appointed board. Currently, the members are Beate Fricke (Art History), Charles Hirschkind (Anthropology), David Marno (English), Saba Mahmood (Anthropology), Robert Sharf (East Asian Languages and Cultures), and Francesco Spagnolo (Music).
BCSR affiliates are primarily Academic Senate faculty who are actively engaged in teaching and research in appropriate sub-fields and who wish to join the Center.
BCSR’s goals are to encourage individual scholarship, to build collaborative research teams and networks, to support energetic conversations about religion, and to produce workshops, seminars, conferences, and other public events that will launch these conversations into the wider world.
By connecting scholars, students, and the global community, BCSR fosters critical and creative scholarship on religion and activates this scholarship for UC Berkeley students and the public at large.
The University of California, Berkeley has unique strengths that make possible a broad, critical inquiry about religion. Berkeley does not have a department of religion, and so the dozens of distinguished research faculty whose work concerns religion have always been based within their home departments. To more fully address questions about religion, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion has been organized in the College of Letters and Science, with the support of the Deans of Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences, to bring these scholars together and to support, organize and enrich the study of religion on our vast campus.