By Jeanne H. Kilde
Dialogue and visibility. If two words can characterize the Program in Religious Studies this past year, it is these. Our program has stepped into the limelight this year in new and exciting ways, contributing to the intellectual study of religion both in the academy and in the public sphere.
Our most prominent event was the conference on Shared Cultural Spaces: Islam and the West in the Arts and Sciences--funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Minnesota's Imagine Fund, and donations from several departments. Nahid Khan reports on this event in our Graduate Spotlight later in this issue of Perspectives.
The most recent outcome of this conference was the completion of a 30-minute television program produced by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). Titled Bridging Cultures: Islam and the West, the program features interviews with many of the scholars who presented papers during the conference. That program began airing on TPT in November and continues to be listed on the Minnesota Chanel. It is viewable online and DVDs of the program will soon be available through the religious studies Web site.
We also launched the Roetzel Family Lecture this fall with an excellent talk by historian James Brewer Stewart on how slavery has been conceptualized among Christians in the United States. Dr. Stewart is not only a noted historian of abolitionism in the antebellum period in the United States but also a committed modern abolitionist and a founding member of Historians Against Slavery. His combination of scholarship and activism was a perfect match for this newly established lectureship, endowed by Professor Emeritus Calvin Roetzel who has also combined political engagement with scholarship throughout his career.
Lastly, the Program sponsored a number of other events designed to foster conversation among faculty and students. The Religious Studies Film Night got going last spring with the screening of Robert Duvall's The Apostle. Professor Penny Edgell (Sociology) provided commentary and moderated the conversation among the several undergraduates in attendance. The Minnesota Religion and Society Workshop brought together graduate students and faculty from around the region to read and discuss my own paper on the Park 51/Ground Zero Mosque situation. In May, the Program in Religious Studies once again offered an all-day workshop for faculty and graduate students from around the region on the topic of the Apocalyptic. The event was truly energizing. Sociology graduate student Jack Delahanty writes about it in this issue of Perspectives.
Through these events, the Program in Religious Studies continues to demonstrate its commitment to fostering intellectual dialogue around the study of religion on campus, across the Twin Cities and throughout the region. As these types of events raise our visibility in all three venues, the Program in Religious Studies continues to establish itself as a leader in the field of the academic study of religion.
Be sure to check out these and other sponsored events on the religious studies website.