Community. In the Religious Studies Program at UW-Madison, we use that word often. Inside of the classroom, we study the ways that certain communities are constructed, defined, and maintained. In and outside of the classroom, our faculty and staff work toward developing a positive and inclusive community, one in which all of our students can find a small home in a large university.
I have been thinking about community a lot lately, especially given our recent move to the Bradley Memorial Building. Our primary reason for moving was that our community has grown over the past few years, with certificates and majors tripling over that time. We simply outgrew our old space. And while this will allow us new opportunities, we want to make sure that our concentration on nurturing our community continues. So please visit Dr. Corrie Norman’s office for advising. Or stop by our newly-promoted Associate Professor Susan Ridgely’s office to learn about her fascinating research or for help on your RS 600 papers. Or stop by your RS 101, 102, or 103 Teaching Assistants’ spacious new office. Or even come stop by to say hello to me in the new Director’s Office.
While we have a new space, we continue to be the same dynamic Religious Studies Program. For example, Prof. Susan Ridgely received a prestigious grant to develop over the course of the next two years a series of programs bringing journalists and journalism students and Religious Studies scholars and students into dialog with one another. This grant will allow our students and faculty to work with journalists and journalism students to learn and to develop projects together.
Speaking of community, I want to take a moment to thank Professor Charles L. Cohen for his tireless work on behalf of Religious Studies. The former director of Religious Studies, Professor Cohen retired at the end of Fall 2017. He will continue to write and research, but will attend fewer meetings!
Further evidence for the amazing things happening at Religious Studies are found in the pages of this newsletter: from our award-winning students and faculty to our work with SuccessWorks (formerly Career Services). Throughout, the theme of community persists. Whether you take one class in Religious Studies or are a concentrator or a major or alumni, you are part of the community that we are trying to build.
And remember that our community extends beyond graduation and beyond the isthmus! Please keep in touch and share your accomplishments (see our alumni news section in this newsletter). Let us know if you are willing to make a donation, either in the financial sense or of your time to help mentor our students.
I look forward to hearing from every member of our community: past, present, and future!