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01

Sep

You are invited to USC Religion’s Welcome Back! Lunch on Wed. Sept. 3rd 12:30 pm — 2 pm

RELIGION…or RELIGION-curious

STUDENTS, TAs, FACULTY, Majors, Minors

You are invited to USC Religion’s Welcome Back! Lunch

Sandwiches and drinks free for students and faculty.

Come, eat, catch up with your friends, meet our great new students and faculty!

Wednesday, September 3rd @ 12:30pm-2pm in ACB 130

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ACB 130    in the west tower of the Ahmanson Center See map below

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Muslims in Public Service — Sat., Sept. 5 (Organized by Prof. Sherman Jackson)

A full-day conference featuring Muslims in various aspects and levels of government discussing their experiences, challenges, advice and vision for the future. Keynote address to be delivered by Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

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Since 9/11, the place of Islam and Muslims in American society has become a major national preoccupation. From no-fly lists to secret surveillance of mosques to legislative campaigns against shari’a law, Muslims have frequently come under suspicion regarding their socio-political roles and aspirations in the United States. Some have even questioned whether Muslims are entitled to constitutional protections that are recognized as the birthright of all other Americans, arguing that “Islam is different.”

Yet lost in all of this controversy is the fact that Muslims continue to function as public servants at virtually every level of American government, from elected officials to advisors and political appointees, from congresspersons to judges to Homeland Security personnel. “American Muslims in Public Service,” a one-day conference that will be held on 5 September 2014 at the University of Southern California’s Tudor Conference Center, will bring together a broad cross-section of American Muslims in public service to share their experiences, perspectives, fears, hopes, advice and prognostications. The conference will be inter-active, inviting questions and perspectives from the audience, along with responses from the participants. It will be capped by a special keynote address that evening by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota). 

Click here to RSVP

PROGRAM
DATE: Friday, September 5, 2014
TIME: 8:00 AM - 7:30 PM
LOCATION: Panels - USC Tudor Campus Center; Keynote - USC Bovard Auditorium
 
Continental breakfast provided
Reception to follow keynote
 

MORNING
PANEL 1: Advisors, Aides, and Hopefuls
  • Suhail A. Khan, Conservative Activist and former Bush Appointee
  • Rahmat Khan, Candidate, Torrance (CA) City Council
  • Ilhaam Jaffer, White House Advance Associate
  • Asim Ghafoor, Former Legislative Assistant

PANEL 2: Law Enforcement and the Courts
  • Sylvester Johnson, Police Commissioner, Philadelphia
  • Mona Youssef, Jurist, Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan-Juvenile Division
  • Hassan A. El-Amin, Associate Judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Maryland

AFTERNOON 
PANEL 3: Muslims in Public Service in Los Angeles and California:
  • Halim Dhanidina, Judge, Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Farrah N. Khan, Community Services Commissioner, City of Irvine
  • Belal Dalati, Commissioner, City of Anaheim
  • Haroon Azar, Department of Homeland Security Regional Director for Strategic Engagement


PANEL 4: Federal, State and International

  • Saud Anwar, Mayor of South Windsor, Connecticut
  • Larry Shaw, Senator, North Carolina
  • Shaarik Zafar, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, U.S. Department of State
 
KEYNOTE: Congressman Keith Ellison
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
 
Congressman Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Fifth District includes the City of Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs and is one of the most vibrant and ethnically diverse districts in Minnesota. Rep. Ellison’s guiding philosophy is based on “generosity and inclusion,” and his priorities in Congress are building prosperity for working families, promoting peace, pursuing environmental sustainability and advancing civil and human rights. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, the congressman helps oversee the nation’s financial services and housing industries, as well as Wall Street. In response to the foreclosure crisis that began in 2008, Rep. Ellison wrote the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act, which requires banks and other new owners to provide at least 90 days’ notice of eviction to renters occupying foreclosed homes. 

For the 113th Congress, Rep. Ellison was elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which promotes the progressive promise of fairness for all. He is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, founded the Congressional Consumer Justice Caucus and belongs to more than a dozen other caucuses that focus on issues ranging from social inclusion to environmental protection. Before being elected to Congress, Rep. Ellison was a noted community activist and ran a thriving civil rights, employment and criminal defense law practice in Minneapolis. Born and raised in Detroit, he has lived in Minnesota since earning his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990. He is the proud father of four children.


Co-Sponsored by:
  • USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture
  • USC Office of Religious Life
  • USC School of Religion
  • USC Center for Law, History and Culture
  • USC Department of American Studies and Ethnicity
  • USC Muslim Student Union
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Questions? E-mail crcc@usc.edu

Faith and Science - what do you think?

Prof. Shiela Briggs offers you a chance to consider deeply some of our most fundamental questions.

REL 442: Religion and Science

Time: M/W 2:00-3:20 pm

Place: SOS B47

Instructor: Sheila Briggs

What is our place in the universe? What are the origins of life? What is the future of humanity? These are questions that science and religion seek to answer in their different ways. How can science today inform the religious and ethical answers to these questions?

Enroll here: https://classes.usc.edu/term-20143/classes/rel

img source: http://tinyurl.com/mk4oak6

New professor alert: USC hires Rongdao Lai and Cavan Concannon!

USC Religion just hired great professors. Get into their courses now!

Religion is offering two, special small-enrollment courses this term with our newest faculty members. Looking for a prof with whom you can connect? Look no further!

These courses offer the rare and rewarding opportunity to study closely with an expert who is known as a talented teacher.

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REL 331: Religions of East Asia

Time: Thursdays 2:00-4:50 pm
Place: VKC 204
Instructor: Rongdao Lai 

What is religious about traditional Chinese medicine? Is the Japanese emperor divine? What does Shamanism have to do with student protest in Korea? This course tries to answer some of these questions. Students will be introduced to the basic worldviews, teachings, texts, and practices in the religions of China, Japan, and Korea.

REL 339: Studies in the History of Christianity: Christianity in the Second Century

Time: T/Th 12:30-1:50 pm
Place: VPD 107
Instructor: Cavan Concannon

Martyrs. Theological Controversy. Heresy. Miracles. The second century had it all. The various Christianities of the second century were shaped by heated debates over everything to do with theology, ethics, and identity. Out of the second century come some of Christianity’s most familiar concepts and some of its most interesting lost possibilities. It was a time of new possibilities, experimentation, and debate around issues not all that dissimilar from those that find there way into our own political and theological debates. Christians in the second century debated piety, education, identity, ethnicity, politics, and even the interpretation of art and architecture. Come explore this fascinating and vibrant period of Christianity’s history. In this course we will read together the surviving texts of the second century and explore the complex engagements between Christians, Jews, Greeks, and the broader Roman Empire. No prerequisites required. All are welcome.

Image source of Rongdao Lai: http://tinyurl.com/nm5jg3z

(Source: tinyurl.com)

Pope Francis — A New Era of Asian Catholicism — Wed. Sept. 10th 6pm

 

Pope Francis’ vision of the Church is one marked by humble service to the world, open dialogue, simplicity of life, and deep spirituality — qualities reflected in many traditional Asian spiritual practices. With Asian Catholics representing one of the fastest growing populations in the Church, how will Francis’s messages be received in light of the extreme poverty, cultural diversity, and religious pluralism of much of Asia? Come hear FR. PETER PHAN in conversation with IACS President, FR. JAMES HEFT, S.M., about the Church, the Pope, and the expansion of Catholicism across Asia.

FR. Peter C. Phan, Georgetown University’s Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought, is a native of Vietnam who came to the U.S. in 1975 as a refugee. A highly acclaimed and award-winning theologian and author, Phan is the first non-Anglo to be elected President of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014
6:00 PM Refreshments
6:30 PM Speech and Discussion
Caruso Catholic Center
844 West Thirty Second Street • Los Angeles, CA 90007

 

Office of Admissions
Harvard Divinity School
14 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Tel. +1.617.495.5796
Fax +1.617.495.0345

Come out and support recent USC graduate Jennifer Massey. She imagined this memorial and worked against all odds to win support of the 9/11 victim’s families in order to create a memorial on the other side of our nation, on USC’s campus.
September 11th at 6pm at DPS on east side of parking structure A.

Come out and support recent USC graduate Jennifer Massey. She imagined this memorial and worked against all odds to win support of the 9/11 victim’s families in order to create a memorial on the other side of our nation, on USC’s campus.

September 11th at 6pm at DPS on east side of parking structure A.

USC Holy Days Calendar
When will students in your class celebrating an important religious holiday?

Check here for the USC Office of Religious Life’s   Holy Days Calendar for 2014-2015
http://orl.usc.edu/religiouslife/holydays/


Image: Festival of the Chariots — Venice Boardwalk

USC Holy Days Calendar

When will students in your class celebrating an important religious holiday?

Check here for the USC Office of Religious Life’s   Holy Days Calendar for 2014-2015

http://orl.usc.edu/religiouslife/holydays/

Image: Festival of the Chariots — Venice Boardwalk

(Source: tinyurl.com)

22

Aug

A Letter from the Director

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Dear Faculty, Students, Teaching Assistants, and Friends, 

As the new director of the School of Religion, I would like to offer each of you a warm welcome back to campus. Before launching into  announcements, I would like to open by expressing my gratitude to Prof. Duncan Williams for his years of exceptional service to our program. His is an impossible act to follow, but I look forward to serving the department to the best of my ability.

And now for the announcements: First, the department is delighted to announce that we will be launching a Ph.D. program. The new program will offer doctoral degrees in three tracks: Comparative Christianities, Global Islam, and Asia Pacific Religions. We will begin accepting applications this fall and are currently working on promotional materials. Prof. Sherman Jackson has kindly agreed to serve as Director of Graduate Studies. We will be releasing more detailed information on the application process, as well as promotional materials, in the weeks to come.

Secondly, I am thrilled to welcome several new members to our faculty. This fall Profs. Cavan Concannon and Jessica Marglin will be joining our department. You will find short features on them in an upcoming newsletter. I would also like to mention Prof. Rongdao Lai, who joined us last spring. You can find out more about Profs. Concannon, Marglin, and Lai here:

http://dornsife.usc.edu/cf/rel/rel_faculty_display.cfm?Person_ID=1057913

http://dornsife.usc.edu/cf/rel/rel_faculty_display.cfm?Person_ID=1057944

http://dornsife.usc.edu/cf/rel/rel_faculty_display.cfm?Person_ID=1048161

Third, I am happy to share that Prof. Lynn Dodd has agreed to serve as Director of Undergraduate Studies. Please send news of events, recent accomplishments, new courses, research and fellowship opportunities, etc. to her at swartz@usc.edu. Your contributions help us keep this newsletter robust, so please don’t forget to keep us informed. (You needn’t be a faculty member to send us news: we encourage everyone on the list to send updates!) Also, a big thanks is due to Prof. James McHugh, who served as Director of Undergraduate Studies last year. Prof. McHugh earned tenure in the spring and is now on a research leave, having won fellowships from both the NEH and the ACLS.

Next, a few words about upcoming events. As you can see below, there are a number of  talks and events planned for September: a major conference on Muslims in Public Service (Sept. 5), organized by Prof. Jackson; a talk by Fr. Peter Phan (Sept. 10), organized by Prof. James Heft; and a conference on yoga, meditation, and integrative health (Sept. 20-21), organized by Dr. Rita Sherma (details to be posted soon). 

We also have several upper-division courses that are under-enrolled. If you have advisees or friends who are looking for REL courses, please ask them to consider REL 331, 339, or 442. We need to get a few more students in these courses in order to keep them from being closed. These small courses offer a great opportunity for students to work closely with our faculty.

And finally, please remember to check our tumblr blog and Facebook pages from time to time:

http://uscreligion.tumblr.com

https://www.facebook.com/USCReligion

Many thanks for your continued support. I look forward to a fruitful and engaging year.

All best,

Lori Meeks

Muslims in Public Service: An Full-Day Conference, Sat., Sept. 5 (Organized by Prof. Sherman Jackson)

A full-day conference featuring Muslims in various aspects and levels of government discussing their experiences, challenges, advice and vision for the future. Keynote address to be delivered by Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

image

Since 9/11, the place of Islam and Muslims in American society has become a major national preoccupation. From no-fly lists to secret surveillance of mosques to legislative campaigns against shari’a law, Muslims have frequently come under suspicion regarding their socio-political roles and aspirations in the United States. Some have even questioned whether Muslims are entitled to constitutional protections that are recognized as the birthright of all other Americans, arguing that “Islam is different.”

Yet lost in all of this controversy is the fact that Muslims continue to function as public servants at virtually every level of American government, from elected officials to advisors and political appointees, from congresspersons to judges to Homeland Security personnel. “American Muslims in Public Service,” a one-day conference that will be held on 5 September 2014 at the University of Southern California’s Tudor Conference Center, will bring together a broad cross-section of American Muslims in public service to share their experiences, perspectives, fears, hopes, advice and prognostications. The conference will be inter-active, inviting questions and perspectives from the audience, along with responses from the participants. It will be capped by a special keynote address that evening by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota). 

Click here to RSVP

PROGRAM
DATE: Friday, September 5, 2014
TIME: 8:00 AM - 7:30 PM
LOCATION: Panels - USC Tudor Campus Center; Keynote - USC Bovard Auditorium
 
Continental breakfast provided
Reception to follow keynote
 

MORNING
PANEL 1: Advisors, Aides, and Hopefuls
  • Suhail A. Khan, Conservative Activist and former Bush Appointee
  • Rahmat Khan, Candidate, Torrance (CA) City Council
  • Ilhaam Jaffer, White House Advance Associate
  • Asim Ghafoor, Former Legislative Assistant

PANEL 2: Law Enforcement and the Courts
  • Sylvester Johnson, Police Commissioner, Philadelphia
  • Mona Youssef, Jurist, Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan-Juvenile Division
  • Hassan A. El-Amin, Associate Judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Maryland

AFTERNOON 
PANEL 3: Muslims in Public Service in Los Angeles and California:
  • Halim Dhanidina, Judge, Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Farrah N. Khan, Community Services Commissioner, City of Irvine
  • Belal Dalati, Commissioner, City of Anaheim
  • Haroon Azar, Department of Homeland Security Regional Director for Strategic Engagement


PANEL 4: Federal, State and International

  • Saud Anwar, Mayor of South Windsor, Connecticut
  • Larry Shaw, Senator, North Carolina
  • Shaarik Zafar, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, U.S. Department of State
 
KEYNOTE: Congressman Keith Ellison
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
 
Congressman Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Fifth District includes the City of Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs and is one of the most vibrant and ethnically diverse districts in Minnesota. Rep. Ellison’s guiding philosophy is based on “generosity and inclusion,” and his priorities in Congress are building prosperity for working families, promoting peace, pursuing environmental sustainability and advancing civil and human rights. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, the congressman helps oversee the nation’s financial services and housing industries, as well as Wall Street. In response to the foreclosure crisis that began in 2008, Rep. Ellison wrote the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act, which requires banks and other new owners to provide at least 90 days’ notice of eviction to renters occupying foreclosed homes. 

For the 113th Congress, Rep. Ellison was elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which promotes the progressive promise of fairness for all. He is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, founded the Congressional Consumer Justice Caucus and belongs to more than a dozen other caucuses that focus on issues ranging from social inclusion to environmental protection. Before being elected to Congress, Rep. Ellison was a noted community activist and ran a thriving civil rights, employment and criminal defense law practice in Minneapolis. Born and raised in Detroit, he has lived in Minnesota since earning his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990. He is the proud father of four children.


Co-Sponsored by:
  • USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture
  • USC Office of Religious Life
  • USC School of Religion
  • USC Center for Law, History and Culture
  • USC Department of American Studies and Ethnicity
  • USC Muslim Student Union
 
Questions? E-mail crcc@usc.edu

REL Faculty Featured in Dornsife News

The Dornsife website ran multiple stories on Religion faculty and courses this summer. 

This story features Prof. David Albertson, who won the 2014 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for his new book:  http://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/1758/religion-and-modern-science/.

This article examines Prof. Don Miller’s work on the role that religion can play in healing the wounds of genocide survivors: 

http://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/1784/healing-after-horror/

This story takes a closer look at Prof. Lori Meeks’ Maymester course, which explored the use of classical Buddhist scriptures in contemporary Buddhist communities:  

http://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/1786/the-many-faces-of-buddhism/

And this piece explores the digital photography techniques pioneered by Prof. Bruce Zuckerman: 

http://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/1777/digital-humanities-at-its-finest/

 

A Conversation with Fr. Peter Phan, Wed., Sept. 10, 2014 

Get to know the Religion faculty better: enroll in one of these small, upper-division courses!

The Religion Department is offering several small-enrollment courses this term. These courses offer the rare and rewarding opportunity to study closely with our award-winning faculty.

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REL 331: Religions of East Asia

Time: Thursdays 2:00-4:50 pm
Place: VKC 204
Instructor: Rongdao Lai 

What is religious about traditional Chinese medicine? Is the Japanese emperor divine? What does Shamanism have to do with student protest in Korea? This course tries to answer some of these questions. Students will be introduced to the basic worldviews, teachings, texts, and practices in the religions of China, Japan, and Korea.

image


REL 339: Studies in the History of Christianity: Christianity in the Second Century
Time: T/Th 12:30-1:50 pm
Place: VPD 107
Instructor: Cavan Concannon

Martyrs. Theological Controversy. Heresy. Miracles. The second century had it all. The various Christianities of the second century were shaped by heated debates over everything to do with theology, ethics, and identity. Out of the second century come some of Christianity’s most familiar concepts and some of its most interesting lost possibilities. It was a time of new possibilities, experimentation, and debate around issues not all that dissimilar from those that find there way into our own political and theological debates. Christians in the second century debated piety, education, identity, ethnicity, politics, and even the interpretation of art and architecture. Come explore this fascinating and vibrant period of Christianity’s history. In this course we will read together the surviving texts of the second century and explore the complex engagements between Christians, Jews, Greeks, and the broader Roman Empire. No prerequisites required. All are welcome.

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REL 442: Religion and Science

Time: M/W 2:00-3:20 pm

Place: SOS B47

Instructor: Sheila Briggs

What is our place in the universe? What are the origins of life? What is the future of humanity? These are questions that science and religion seek to answer in their different ways. This course asks how contemporary science can inform the religious and ethical answers to these questions.

You can find enrollment information here: https://classes.usc.edu/term-20143/classes/rel

Diversity and Explorations Program at Harvard Divinity School November 4-6, 2014 (Applications Due Sept. 15)

   
DIVERSITY AND EXPLORATIONS PROGRAM
Three days. Infinite possibilities. And it’s on us. 
November 4-6, 2014
 
 
Dear Dr. Lisa Bitel, 

Harvard Divinity School (HDS) is pleased to announce that the online application is now available for its eighth annual Diversity and Explorations Program (DivEx) to be held November 4-6, 2014.  This year’s HDS faculty speaker will be Mayra Rivera Rivera, Associate Professor of Theology and Latina/o Studies.  To see what some DivEx alums are saying about their DivEx experience, I invite you to take a look, and share, our new DivEx video

The application deadline is September 15, 2014.To refer a prospective DivEx applicant, please complete our brief online DivEx referral form or simply forward this email inviting them to take these steps:


·         Apply to DivEx

·         Complete our online inquiry form to learn more about Harvard Divinity School

·         Contact our office with questions at admissions@hds.harvard.edu or 617.495.5796
 
The Diversity and Explorations Program is intended to interest students who are underrepresented in the graduate study of religion, with a particular focus on African American, Latino/a, Asian American, and Native American students. We welcome applications from talented undergraduates whose backgrounds demonstrate a commitment to issues of diversity, social justice, and the fields of religion, theology and ministry. Students who have already graduated from an undergraduate program and those who may be considering second career options will be considered if space is available.

Selected participants will be provided with transportation to Harvard Divinity School as well as room and board for the duration of the program.  The program offers an opportunity to explore graduate theological education in a variety of ways, including class visits, panel discussions, and formal presentations by faculty, alumni, staff and students.  
 

Thank you in advance for introducing us to future DivEx participants. 
 
Warm regards, 

Prudence Goss
Director of Admissions
Office of Admissions
Harvard Divinity School
14 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Tel. +1.617.495.5796
Fax +1.617.495.0345

25

May

Stellar Religion Students Receive Major University Awards

Religion and Archaeology students at USC have scooped up an outstanding number of awards this year - quite possibly a record number for any department!

 

An incredible total of FOUR out of the ten Steven and Kathryn Sample Renaissance Scholars this year are Religion or Archaeology students: Kausar Ali, Grant Dixon, Karissa Masciel, and Adeel Mohammadi.

 

Adeel Mohammadi was one of only seven students to receive the University Trustees Award.

 

Kalena Giessler in Archaeology, and Karissa Masciel and Adeel Mohammadi in Religion all received the prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships – only seven in total were awarded.

 

See this article for the full lists of honors.

17

May

Commencement 2014: Congratulations to Religion Students!

Some images from USC Commencement ceremony 2014. Congratulations to all our very successful religion students.

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Karissa Masciel at the post commencement reception. Karissa also just received an award for Extraordinary Community Service:

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Birka Burnison and Grant Dixon at the reception.

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Professors Duncan Williams and David Albertson on the commencement stage.

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