Past Faculty News
Winnifred Sullivan considers teaching religion in The Immanent Frame "Teaching Religion: Refusing the Schempp Myth of Origins"
Professor Cooper Harris reflects on Muhammad Ali "Taking Exception: How Muhammad Ali Transformed American Religion"
Professor Candy Brown appeared in the National Geographic Channel's The Story of God
Professor Patrick Michelson is awarded IU Trustees Teaching Award
Professor Richard Nance speaks about the growth of Buddhism In U.S.
Listen to Professor Heather Blair talk about her book Real and Imagined
Professor Cooper Harris is interviewed on WFHB about Zora Neale Hurston
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."
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.
RELIGIOUS STUDIES FACULTY INVOLVED WITH THE 2015-2017 WORLD RELIGIONS IN GREATER INDIANAPOLIS NEH PROGRAM
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.
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.
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.
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
Professor Candy Brown was awarded the 2014 Jane Dempsey Douglass Prize for her essay “Pentecostal Power: The Politics of Divine Healing Practices” by the American Society of Church History. The Jane Dempsey Douglass Prize is an annual award for the author of the best essay published during the previous calendar year on any aspect of the role of women in the history of Christianity.
Schott was awarded a $10,000 fellowship for his project, “Translation with Introduction and Commentary of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History.”
Selka was awarded $20,000 for his project, “Branding Brazil: Religion and the Uses of Cultural Heritage in Bahia.” As he writes in his proposal, "The state of Bahia is popularly known as the cradle of Afro-Brazilian culture, an image that has made it a destination for African American “roots tourism.” Against this backdrop, "Branding Brazil" focuses on the festival of Our Lady of the Good Death (A Festa de Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte, or simply Boa Morte) in the town of Cachoeira, Bahia . This Afro-Catholic festival celebrated by the sisters of Boa Morte, all of whom are women of African descent involved with Candomblé , was on the verge of disappearing until the state of Bahia began to promote it as a tourist attraction in the 1970s."
Professor Heather Blair was awarded a 2015 New Frontiers in the Arts & Humanities grant of $38,177 for her project, "The Gods Make You Giggle: Finding Religion in Japanese Children's Picture Books". Adjunct Professor Patricia Ingham, of the Department of English, was also awarded a grant for her project, "A Cultural History of Curiosity: Part 1, Monkey Business". Considered one of the largest internally funded university arts and humanities programs supporting scholarship and creative activity, the New Frontiers program has awarded more than $9.3 million to 451 faculty members in the past 10 years.
“The New Frontiers program, which is unique among major research universities, fosters and strengthens the university’s commitment to transformative innovation, outstanding scholarship, and creative and intellectual achievement,” Vice President for Research Jorge José said. “More broadly, New Frontiers helps demonstrate the importance of the arts and humanities in contemporary life and is truly a signature program for the university.”
Read the full press release here.
PROFESSORS HEATHER BLAIR AND DAVID HABERMAN AWARDED RESEARCH GRANTS BY THE CONSORTIUM FOR THE STUDY OF RELIGION, ETHICS, AND SOCIETY
The Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society has awarded $51,248 to 11 faculty from three IU campuses to further their research on the topic of “Wonder and the Natural World.” This grant funding is the first phase of a two-year thematic initiative sponsored by the consortium on the theme of “Wonder and the Natural World.” The first phase will culminate in a daylong public symposium on May 22, 2015, at which funding recipients, along with invited guests, will present their works-in-progress.
“We received a truly impressive array of proposals, linking wonder to many facets of human and nonhuman life,” said IU Bloomington religious studies professor and consortium director Lisa Sideris. “The successful proposals reflect on the light and dark dimensions of wonder, as well as wonder’s ethical, emotional, cognitive, pedagogical, aesthetic and religious forms. It will be exciting to see the conversations that emerge from these diverse studies of wonder.”
The goal of the funding is to encourage faculty to engage with the idea of “wonder” in all its forms and in a variety of disciplines. The awardees cut across academic fields, from faculty in religious studies and English to bioethics and anthropology.
Heather Blair, assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at IU Bloomington, was awarded funding for her project "Super-Natural: Configuring Childhood Virtue in Contemporary Japanese Picture Books." “This project examines representations of the natural world in post-war Japanese children’s literature,” she said, “with a particular emphasis on contemporary picture books designed for children ages 3 to 6. Broadly speaking, it aims to introduce the study of Japanese children’s literature into ongoing conversations about childhood, character education, religion, and ethics.”
Associate Professor Lisa Sideris was awarded the 2014-2014 Beth Wood Distinguished Service-Learning Faculty Award. This award honors faculty who have demonstrated excellence in three areas: 1) teaching pedagogically strong and mutually beneficial service-learning classes, 2) participating in Service-Learning Program events (for example, as attendees at coffee hours or presenters at our more formal events) and 3) raising visibility of service-learning on and off campus. This award is named after Beth Wood who taught service-learning public relations courses in the School of Journalism, until she lost her battle with cancer in November of 2009. Her teaching exemplified high quality service-learning valued by students and community partner agencies alike.
Michael Ing, assistant professor of Religious Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, was awarded a Junior Scholars Grant by The Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. Ing will be awarded $30,000 to study “Vulnerabilities of the Self in early Confucianism”.
As part of The Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation grant Ing will look at the question of vulnerability in the context of early Confucianism. In particular he will examine the meaningful things people believed to be beyond their power to control, i.e. relationships, social position, health, and how they coped with the possibility, or even the inevitability, of loss. Ing’s project will challenge the dominant view of Confucian self-cultivation as invulnerable to misfortune and on a larger scale will broaden the field of Confucian thought by bringing neglected texts to bear on contemporary philosophical issues.
“I believe that Vulnerabilities of the Self will reveal a kind of value in vulnerability,” Ing explains. “Vulnerability, in this light, shows the risks associated with living a good life. It demonstrates that living a life without risk is a life not worth living. A vulnerable self is a permeable and precarious self, yet the self can only be cultivated by opening up to relationships with other people.”
Professor Heather Blair was awarded the Trustees Teaching Award recognizing her excelence in teaching at Indiana University, especially at the undergraduate level. This peer nominated award is for tenured or tenure-track faculty, or full-time lecturers or clinical faculty whose primary duty is teaching, who have demonstrated that they are the best teachers. The IUB Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs is responsible for establishing and supervising the procedures for determining the award recipients.
April, 2014. Constance Furey was selected to receive the 2014 James P. Holland Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service to Students.
This award was established in memory of the late James P. Holland, a long time faculty member in Biology celebrated for his concern for and commitment to service to students, as well as his excellent teaching. Each spring, undergraduate students from the College nominate professors for this award. Professors Anne Pyburn and Eric Sandweiss, the 2012 and 2013 Holland Award recipients, respectively, joined Associate Dean John Louis Lucaites on the selection committee this year.
Several of Furey's students wrote letters of support, providing compelling descriptions of the outstanding contributions of teaching and service to students that she makes to the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as to the campus as a whole. This award rightly honors an exceptional and enthusiastic educator, whose concern for the personal well-being and intellectual development of her students inspires respect as well as deep admiration.
January, 2014. Lisa Sideris, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, has been tapped to direct a new consortium that builds on longstanding Indiana University strengths in fields related to religion, spirituality, and ethics. This consortium has been established as a partnership between IU Bloomington and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
IU is launching the Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society (CSRES) to encourage research examining the interaction of religious ideas and practices with ethical, legal, and other social and cultural frameworks. The CSRES will sponsor a biannual internal grant competition paired with a national conference, both focused on a research theme such as religion and politics, religion and the environment, or the ethics of war and peace. IU faculty from various disciplines will be eligible to apply for the internal research grants, with the first biannual national conference planned for 2015-16. The conferences will involve scholars from IU and other institutions.
April 16, 2013 - David Haberman is among the five Indiana University Bloomington professors in the College of Arts and Sciences who are recipients of the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2013.
"This is an important and happy moment in the College," said Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "These fellowships will allow our accomplished scholars to pursue freely their research interests. This experience will advance their scholarship and benefit their colleagues and students. Thus, the impact of a Guggenheim is felt across multiple generations of scholars."
Haberman's research interests include South Asian religious traditions and, more recently, the intersection of religion and ecology. He's involved in this emerging field and serves on the advisory board of the Forum on Religion and Ecology based at the Yale University School for Forestry and Environmental Studies. He plans to use his fellowship to work on a book project focused on the worship of Mount Govardhan, one of the most distinguishing features of the sacred landscape of Braj, the region in northern India associated primary with Krishna.