Faculty News

Professor Candy Brown named President-Elect of the American Society of Church History

photo of Candy Brown

Professor Candy Brown has been named President-Elect of the American Society of Church History for 2016, a one year term that will lead to her becoming President in 2017, and Past President in 2018.

The American Society of Church History (ASCH), founded in 1888, is one of the oldest and most distinguished historical societies in the United States. In its early years, ASCH focused on the disciplines of Christian denominational and ecclesiastical history. Over time, ASCH interests broadened to include diverse critical scholarly perspectives, as applied to the history of Christianity and its relationship to surrounding cultures in all periods, locations and contexts. Today, ASCH is a 3,000-member society that seeks to advance and deepen historical knowledge of Christianity in all periods and places, in every aspect of its expression—institutional, religious, and intellectual—as well as its manifold interrelationships with nations, cultures, and other religions. The Society fosters stimulating, intellectual cross-pollination through its conferences, publications, awards, and research grants. The ASCH hosts an annual winter meeting in conjunction with the American Historical Association, as well as a bi-annual spring meeting. The Society gained admission to the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) in 2001. ASCH publishes the quarterly, peer-reviewed, academic journal Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, established in 1932, and now disseminated by Cambridge University Press. Church History is widely recognized as the flagship journal for studies in the history of Christianity and culture. The journal publishes original research articles and book reviews covering all areas of the history of Christianity and its cultural contexts in all places and times, including its non-Western expressions. It is abstracted and indexed in the ATLA Religion Database. The European Reference Index for the Humanities classifies Church History as “INT 2,” a category of “international publications with significant visibility and influence in the various research domains in different countries.”

Professor Winnifred Sullivan wins Luce Foundation grant

Politics of Religion at Home and Abroad

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd of Northwestern University and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan of Indiana University have been awarded a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for a three-year collaborative research project (2016-2019) entitled “The Politics of Religion at Home and Abroad.” The project, which will be based primarily at Northwestern, will examine the particular complex of religion, law, and politics at the dynamic pivot between the domestic and the international in the United States, at a time when the political role of religion is under renewed scrutiny, and the nature and the role of the nation-state is under revision. Sullivan, Hurd, and their collaborators will study the politics of religion from an “inside/outside” vantage point to better understand the symbiotic relation between US domestic and foreign policy, past and present, with regard to religion and religious governance. The project will also have a comparative dimension as the inside/outside framework is applied to other contexts.

The project will include a research program as well as pedagogical and public outreach elements. Networking and career development opportunities for younger scholars and advanced graduate will be prioritized, and graduate students from across the disciplines will be closely engaged in project activities. A new 2-year postdoctoral fellowship will be created at Northwestern to support a junior scholar working in this area of study. A sub grant to Indiana University will support faculty and student research connected to the project.

Professor Sarah Imhoff awarded New Frontiers Grant

Professor Sarah Imhoff was awarded a New Frontiers of Creativity and Scholarship Grant to assist in the development of innovative works of scholarship and creative activities in the arts and humanities. Imhoff will be using the money to visit an archive and work toward the publication of her second book. Her book will look at the life of Jessie Sampter who Imhoff describes this way.

"Jessie Sampter was best known as the author of A Course on Zionism, which promoted Zionism to an American audience. It went through three editions, expanding from 95 pages to 262 pages to 411 pages in 1933. Defying many social norms, the young, unmarried Sampter embraced a Judaism her parents had rejected, bought a trousseau, drolly declared herself “married to Palestine,” and moved there in 1918. But Sampter’s own life and body hardly matched typical Zionist ideals: while Zionism celebrated the strong and healthy body, Sampter spoke of herself as “crippled” from polio and plagued by weakness and sickness her whole life; while Zionism applauded reproductive (women’s) bodies, Sampter never married or bore children—in fact, she wrote of homoerotic longings and had same-sex relationships we would consider queer."

This book will seek to understand how a queer, “crippled” woman become a leading voice of American Zionism, and why history largely overlooked her. It will discuss how to understand a Zionist whose embodied experiences did not conform to Zionist ideals—and suggests that this conflict between embodiment and religious thought was far from unique in American religious experience.

Photo Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests

Professor Jason Mokhtarian finalist for 2015 Jewish Book Award

Professor Jason Mokhtarian's book Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests was chosen as a finalist for the 2015 Jewish Book Award in the scholarship category. You can find out more information on the Jewish Book Council website.

Professor Lisa Sideris Featured in Special Issue of The Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature And Culture

Professor Lisa Sideris’s work is the subject of a special issue of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture. In this issue, Sideris critiques efforts of religion scholars and others to consecrate scientific narratives of the evolution of the cosmos as sacred stories that provide universal meaning and ethical guidance. In this issue of JSRNC, ‘Contesting Consecrated Scientific Narratives in Religion and Environmental Ethics’, readers will find Sideris’s original paper, “Science as Sacred Myth?” along with critics’ responses to it from a variety of disciplines, and Sideris’s subsequent reply to the critics.

Professor Winnifred Sullivan Wins AAR Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion

photo of winnifred sullivan

Professor Winnifred Sullivan has been awarded the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Analytical-Descriptive Studies for her book, A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law (University of Chicago Press, 2014). This award is given annually by the American Academy of Religion to, “honor works of distinctive originality, intelligence, creativity, and importance; books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted.” (AAR website)

Founded in 1909, the American Academy of Religion is the world’s largest association of religion scholars, and its mission is to foster excellence in the study of religion by promoting research, publishing, and teaching about religion in academia. As a learned society and professional association of teachers and research scholars, the American Academy of Religion has about 9,000 members who teach in some 900 colleges, universities, seminaries, and schools in North America and abroad. The Academy is dedicated to furthering knowledge of religion and religious institutions in all their forms and manifestations. This is accomplished through Academy-wide and regional conferences and meetings, publications, programs, and membership services.


photo of Aaron Stalnaker

Professor Aaron Stalnaker was awarded a Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Scholar Grant to work on his current book project, Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority. Here is what Professor Stalnaker wrote in his application:

"On a classical Confucian view, it is natural, healthy, and good for people to be deeply dependent on others in a variety of ways across the full human lifespan. In contrast, individual autonomy is arguably the root conception of much modern Western ethical and political thinking, centrally present in various forms in the thought of Kant, Mill, and more recently Rawls and his defenders. I suggest that the early Confucian vision of life provides a subtle but important challenge to the contemporary ideal of autonomy. To address this challenge, Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority examines early Chinese thought to explore how dependence on authorities relates to the cultivation of responsible agency. If true virtue can only be cultivated through hierarchically ordered relationships of senior and junior partners in a shared “Way” of life, as early Confucians argue, then autonomy in at least some senses of the term cannot be a birthright or a presumption—it should instead be seen as something cultivated and socially supported. And if humans need to participate in such ordered relationships to flourish, we have good reason to reconsider the suspicion of dependence visible in key strands of modern Western ethics. This book project examines classical Confucian conceptions of virtuous mastery and dependence to help disentangle different aspects of autonomy as an ideal, refine our understanding of authority relations, and thereby help us to better understand and evaluate hierarchical relationships. This project corrects overly simple contrasts between “Chinese” and “Western” ethics; develops liberal political thought and feminist ethics by articulating novel ways of distinguishing just authority and salutary dependence from domination; and contributes to flourishing new literatures on contemporary Confucian political philosophy, and comparative and cross-cultural virtue ethics."


photo of Michael Ing

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, has announced a new, two-year project on “Enhancing Life”. This Project explores an essential aspiration of human beings that moves persons and communities into the future. Given the profound expansion of human power through technology as well as advances in genetics, ecology, and other fields, the vulnerability and endangerment as well as the enhancement of life are dominant themes in the global age. The Enhancing Life Project aims to explore this rich but widely unexamined dimension of human aspiration and social life, and increase knowledge so that life might be enriched.

The 35 scholars of the Enhancing Life Project are an interdisciplinary and international group who will research, write, and teach on the enhancement of life in their specific disciplines, while working collaboratively to make all projects stronger. In various ways, they will tackle the two Big Questions of the Enhancing Life Project: 1) What does it mean to enhance life, including spiritual life? 2)Correlatively, what are the strategies, social mechanisms, and technologies that enable us to enhance life in its many dimensions and in measurable ways?

In his work Professor Ing will be looking at the issue of vulnerability in the context of early Confucian thought.


Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has partnered with Ivy Tech Community College (Ivy Tech) to introduce fifteen community college instructors to the religious traditions of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist communities in greater Indianapolis.

“World Religions in Greater Indianapolis” utilizes primary and secondary humanities texts and humanities experts at several local universities, supplemented by field trips and discussions with local practitioners, to explore these five world religions, their history and life in the United States, and their presence in and contributions to cultural life in the metropolitan area.

The program will result in the production of 150 course modules that incorporate knowledge about world religions into Ivy Tech’s core humanities curriculum, including classes on U.S. History I & II, World Civilization I & II, World Literature I, Humanities, and Survey of Art and Culture I & II.

IU Bloomington Religous Studies Professors Jason Mokhtarian, Heather Blair, and Sarah Imhoff participated in the creation of this porgram. You can find more information about the program here


Professors Constance Furey and Rebecca Manring were awarded Individual Research Award in the amount of $2000 by the Institute for Advanced Study.

The Individual Research Award is intended to help associate professors undertake creative or scholarly research; exhibit, perform or publish the results; and/or obtain external funding.


photo of Jeremy Schott

Professor Jeremy Schott awarded College Arts & Humanities Institute Travel Research Grant of $5,000. The grant will allow him to travel to Paris and Florence for his project “Eusebius of Caesarea: Text and Tradition in Late-Ancient Christianity” and his translation and commentary of Eusebius of Caearea’s “Ecclesiastical History.”


Professor Lisa Sideris was granted a Sustainability Course Development Fellowship for 2015 by the IU Office Sustainability. The committee found her plan to develop new and innovative materials for a course entitled, “The God Species: Ethics in the Anthropocene” to be timely, and they believe it will fill an important area of need in their emerging sustainability curriculum. It also has the strong support of the Religious Studies Department. The course will connect rich theoretical concepts with the existing deer management issue in Bloomington, as well as the integration of field-based learning at the IU Research & Teaching Preserve. The IU Office Sustainability wants to encourage these types of efforts.


Jamsheed K. Choksky
Jamsheed K. Choksky

2/25/2015 - Six IU researchers and scholars, including Religious Studies Adjunct Jamsheed K. Choksy, have been promoted to distinguished professor, the highest academic rank the university can bestow upon its faculty. The appointments were approved Feb. 20 by the IU Board of Trustees. The rank of distinguished professor was created by the Board of Trustees in 1967 and is conferred by the university president with approval by the board.

“These six distinguished professors have demonstrated sustained records of outstanding contributions across their widely varied disciplines through their research, teaching and service,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “All have had a transformative and strongly positive impact on their fields and on the university, exemplifying the highest standards of academic accomplishment, leadership and integrity. It is highly appropriate that they are being recognized with the university’s most prestigious faculty appointment.”

The distinguished professorship recognizes faculty who have transformed their fields of study and received international recognition for their work. Faculty, alumni, students and colleagues nominate candidates, citing outstanding research, scholarship and artistic or literary distinction. Nominations are reviewed by the University Distinguished Ranks Committee, which recommends appointments.

Choksy, a professor in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, is an authority of Iran, the Indian subcontinent, Zoroastrianism and Islam. His success in studying the Near East and South Asia stems from his unparalleled knowledge of primary language skills over more than 20 dialects. His research examines the development and interrelationship of communities, beliefs, politics, economics and security. The author of the groundbreaking book “Evil, Good and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History,” he is a sought-after media commentator on topics and issues facing the region.

read the full press release from Inside IU here

Past Faculty News

Professor Brown Awarded Jane Dempsey Douglass Prize

Professors Schott and Selka Awarded Cahi Fellowships

Professor Blair Awarded New Frontiers in The Arts & Humanities Grant

Professors Heather Blair And David Haberman Awarded Research Grants By The Consortium For The Study Of Religion, Ethics, And Society

Lisa Sideris awarded the Beth Wood Distinguished Service-Learning Faculty Award

Michael Ing awarded Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation Grant

Heather Blair wins 2014 Trustees Teaching Award

Constance Furey awarded the James P. Holland Award For Exemplary Teaching And Service To Students

Lisa Sideris named director of Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society (CSRES)

David Haberman receives Guggenheim fellowship