Prof. Jim Watts' course, Writing Scripture Law, for the Renee Crown Honors program, was profiled in the current issue of Syracuse University Magazine

Fall 2019 Course Flyer for Writing, Scripture, Law

June 3, 2019


Professor James W Watts' course, Writing Scripture Law, for the Renee Crown Honors program, was profiled in the current issue of Syracuse University Magazine 

Abel Gomez wins CSRC Summer Research Grant Award

Abel Gomez

May 15, 2019

Abel Gomez was awarded a research grant from the Center for the Study of Religion and the City at Morgan State University. Abel Gomez is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religion studying Indigenous, Neo-Pagan, and Latinx religious movements. He will use this award to complete fieldwork for his dissertation, Sacred Sites, Ceremony, and Belonging in Ohlone Territory: A Case Study of Indigenous Survival. The dissertation is an ethnographic exploration of Indigenous Ohlone sacred sites protection movements and cultural revitalization in the San Francisco and Monterey regions of California.

Summer Course Offerings in the Department of Religion

May 8, 2019

Religion is deeply connected to the human experience. This summer we are continuing our exploration of the historical and contemporary role of religion in the making of art, thought, and civilization, and invite you to join us!

If you have humanities requirements that you need or would like to fulfill, and are interested in developing a critical awareness of one of the foundations of human culture & society, please consider taking one or more of the following exciting online courses:


World Religions Flyer  
Caption: Religions of the World Flyer 

Religion and Sports 
Caption: Religion and Sports Flyer 

Discovering Islam Flyer 
Caption: Discovering Islam Flyer 

Religion, Meaning and Knowledge Flyer 
Caption: Religion Meaning and Knowledge Flyer 

For more information on these courses, please email the professors at their respective addresses above or view this course descriptions PDF.


Alumna Student Spotlight: Lindsay Zerfas

Lindsay Zerfas

April 29, 2019

Lindsay Zerfas graduated in May 2018 with a double major in Philosophy and Religion (Pre-Law). She successfully defended her thesis on morality and community building at a youth theology and ministry camp in Minnesota, and received both Honors and Distinction in Religion. During the Spring of 2018, Lindsay was also accepted into law school at the University of Minnesota, where she is now in the process of completing her first year. Congratulations, Lindsay!

Alumna Student Spotlight: Ericka Jones Craven

Ericka Jones-Craven

April 29, 2019

Ericka Jones-Craven graduated in May 2018 with a double major in Religion and Art Photography. She mounted three photography or multi-media exhibitions on religion and art in her junior and senior years, and received an honorable mention for one exhibition and Honors in Religion at graduation. After graduation, she started a photography business and applied to graduate school. She was recently accepted into a Master of Arts program in Art and Public Policy at the Tisch School of Art at New York University (NYU). She has received a generous scholarship from NYU, and will start the program this Fall (2019). Congratulations, Ericka!

Fall and Summer 2019 Course Offerings

April 11, 2019

The academic study of religion allows one to explore questions of human being in many ways. Please check out our video!

This Fall and Summer, there are a rich variety of courses addressing different faith traditions. This includes Native American Religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, ancient Greek Religion, and American Judaism. In each of these courses, we seek to explode preconceptions and to expand understanding, as we explore practices, rituals, ideas, and cultures from worlds, peoples, and times often different from our own.

Many of our courses also address particular themes or issues, such as the role of religion in society—from its situation in a globalizing world, to the Creator’s Game of the Haudenosaunee (lacrosse), to the role of gender in the Muslim world, to religious issues in America today, including issues around religion and migration, to the relation between religion and popular culture, to the effects of secularization on religion, particularly in the form of atheism and agnosticism.

Inquiry also plays a central role in our course offerings. It can be philosophical, theological, and existential, particularly in an exploration of the best possible ways to live—the focus of a course on religion, meaning and knowledge. It can be psychological, spiritual, and ethical, as in a course on psychology, religion and ethics. It can be philosophical, religious, and aesthetic, as in a course on religion and film. And it can be psychological and existential, as in a course exploring what it means to grapple with existence.

Last, but certainly not least, our courses also explore the literary and the scriptural dimensions of religion, particularly in their ethnic, historical, and cultural dimensions—from the productions of great Jewish writers, to the scriptural and cultural productions of the Ancient Near East, to the relation between scripture and law.

As this variety of course offerings demonstrate, the Department of Religion is multi- and inter-disciplinary. This multi- and inter-disciplinarity continues into our Summer course offerings on several faith traditions of the world, on a specific faith tradition, and on the pursuit of wisdom or the best life. As many of our majors attest, such intellectual richness is a great benefit for undergraduates wishing to construct vibrant and creative programs of study.

Come and join us!

⤓ Course Descriptions (PDF) | View Current Courses.

Contact Information

Prof. Marcia C. Robinson.
Office: 511HL,

New SU Press Haudenosaunee and Indigenous Worlds Series

Philip P. Arnold and Scott Manning

April 10, 2019

The Syracuse University Press is pleased to announce its new Haudenosaunee and Indigenous Worlds series. This series will expand the Press’s historical emphasis in “Iroquois” and Native American publications to better reflect current scholarship regarding oral tradition, de-colonial and Indigenous studies—writ large. We welcome submissions from diverse authors across disciplines, traditions, and orientations, but with special emphasis on the Haudenosaunee. The series will be led by Philip P. Arnold and Scott Manning Stevens. For queries, please contact acquisitions editor Peggy Solic:

About the series editors:

Philip P. Arnold is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion at Syracuse University, and a core faculty member of Native American and Indigenous Studies. He is the Founding Director of the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center

Scott Manning Stevens is Associate Professor and Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies; and Associate Professor, English Department, Syracuse University.

For more detailed information, visit:

New Publication on The Paranormal and Popular Culture

Book cover for The Paranormal in Popular Culture

February 27, 2019

Darryl Caterine and John W. Morehead have published a new essay collection with Routledge on The Paranormal and Popular Culture: A Postmodern Religious Landscape. John W. Morehead is an academic research and writer whose work focuses on new religious movements along with religion and popular culture. Most recently he has edited and co-edited The Undead and TheologyJoss Whedon and Religion, and The Supernatural Cinema of Guillermo del Toro. Darryl Caterine is a professor of Religious Studies at Le Moyne College with a courtesy appointment in the Syracuse University Department of Religion, through the CNY Religious Studies Consortium. Most recently he has been researching the paranormal in the United States and Latin America, and in 2011 He published, Haunted Ground: Journeys through a Paranormal America.

The Paranormal and Popular Culture includes twenty essays on a wide variety of intriguing topics including "Religions of the Red Planet: Fin de Siècle Martian Romances," by SU Religion Department alumna Christa Shusko (Ph.D. 2010). She is an assistant professor of religious studies at York College of Pennsylvania where her research focuses on 19th and 20th Century Utopian and Millenial Movements. Most recently she has published: "Criticising the Dead: The Oneida Community and Spiritualism" in The Handbook of Spiritualism and Channeling (Brill, 2015) and "Alchohol Consumption, Transgression, and Death" in Dying to Eat: Cross-cultural Perspectives on Food in Dying, Death, and Afterlives (University of Kentucky Press, 2018).

From Historiography to Philosophical Engagement: The Future of Islamic Philosophy

The calligraphy is by the leading Egyptian calligrapher Seyyed al-Kumi (see below for more detail)

February 26, 2019

The aim of this event is to rigorously explore the prospects of engaging the Islamic philosophical tradition and not merely from a historical or philological. To be specific, the objective of the conference is to philosophically examine, while scrupulously avoiding any lapses into anachronistic arguments, the methodological and discursive potential of the highly rich and tremendously understudied Islamic philosophical and rational tradition to respond to problems and impasses in modern and post-modern philosophical systems. We will have three major panels:

  1. Logic and Metaphysics
  2. Epistemology and Philosophical Anthropology
  3. Moral and Political Philosophy. 

We will be sharing the program and the participants very soon.

For more information please see the ⟶ event page and flyer.

All are welcome to attend!

Organizers Professor Ahmed Abdel Meguid & M. Owais Khan (Ph.D. Candidate), would like to thank the Department of Religion for organizing, and the co-sponsoring Departments and Programs: History, Jewish Studies Program, Middle Eastern Studies Program, Political Science, Women’s and Gender Studies.



A Note on the design of the calligraphy: 

The design is courtesy of Tarek Wagih Hamdy Cairo/London based designer and a friend of mine. The calligraphy is by the leading Egyptian calligrapher Seyyed al-Kumi. The Arabic text is a quote from the 17th century Persian philosopher Ṣadra ad-Dīn Muḥammad Shirāzī also known as Mullā Ṣadrā (d. 1640 C.E.) from his philosophical encyclopedia: al-Ḥikma al-Muta‘ālya fī al-Asfār al-‘Aqliyya al-Arba‘a. The quote in Arabic من الخلق إلى الحق و من الحق إلى الخلق بالحق (transliteration: min al-khalq ilā al-ḥaq wa mina al-ḥaq ilā al-khalq bi-lḥaq). The translation would be: ‘from the world of creation to the Truth/God and from the Truth/God to the world of creation by way of the truth.’ This quote generally sums up the two methods of doing philosophy as they were developed and understood in Islamic intellectual history. The first, from the world of creation to the world of rational universals and knowledge of God, is the path of the analytic philosophers, rational theologians, scientists and followers of Aristotle. The second, from the truth to the world of creation by way of the truth, is the path of the mystics, mystical philosophers and followers of Plato which starts from universal rational forms and knowledge of God and seek their instantiations in the physical world.

Syracuse Symposium to Recognize Careers of Professors Wadley, Gold

Ann Gold

February 22, 2019
 Syracuse Symposium continues its yearlong foray into “Stories” with a panel discussion on South Asian ethnographyon Tuesday, Feb. 26.

Recognizing the careers of Professors Susan S. Wadley and Ann Grodzins Gold, the event includes guest panelists Kirin Narayan (Australian National University), Joyce Flueckiger (Emory University), Corinne Dempsey G’96 (Nazareth College) and Priti Ramamurthy G’95 (University of Washington).

The discussion is free and open to the public, and takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Dr. Paul & Natalie Strasser Legacy Room, 220 Eggers Hall. For more information, contact the Humanities Center in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) at 315.443.7192 or visit

Wadley and Gold also are involved with “From Gods to Social Justice: Indian Folk Artists Challenging Traditions,” running from April 6-May 18 at ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse. The opening reception for the exhibition, which represents two painting styles from eastern India, is Saturday, April 6, from 7 to 9 p.m.

A&S recently caught up with both professors, who have enjoyed prolific careers in A&S and the Maxwell School...

Reusing Religious Sites and Reactivating Normative Texts

Syracuse University Hall of Languages

February 21, 2019

The Syracuse University Department of Religion will be hosting a with ten faculty of the Center for Religious Studies at Ruhr University, Bochum on March 4-5. The goal of the colloquium is to explore the possibility of collaborative research projects. 

Our initial meeting is organized around two broad themes: (1) changes in the use and reuse of public and privatespaces as religious sites, including conflicts over such places, and (2) reactivations of old normative texts to advance or hinder social change.  

This event is made possible by grants from Syracuse University (CUSE grant), the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).


For more information please see the event page and or download the program as a PDF.

First Exchange student from Syracuse to Bochum

John Abercrombie

February 14, 2019

John Abercrombie (PhD student) has returned from four months in the Center of Religions Studies (CERES) at Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany. He is the first SU student to take advantage of a new graduate-student exchange program between CERES and the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. A CERES PhD student, Lisa Wevelsiep, is spending the spring semester in the Syracuse Department. John writes: 

"Studying in Bochum for this past Winter semester helped deepen my training in ancient Daoism and classical Chinese, while at the same time allowing me to take part in the active research community at CERES through the Kate Hamburger Kolleg symposia on Mondays. The weekly discussions with scholars of different backgrounds and research areas were stimulating and gave me a window into how collaborative research projects are taking place in Europe. I also can’t speak highly enough of the Christmas markets."

The exchange has been designed flexibly to allow graduate students to take advantage of the different faculty and resources of these collaborating universities, as well as their relatively central locations in Europe and North America. John, for example, studies Daoist history and classical texts with CERES faculty who focus on the history of Chinese religion. He also gained some insight and experience in the structures and processes that shape religious studies in German and European universities. For more about his experience, see this story about him from CERES. 


The graduate-student exchange is one part of a broader cooperation in research and teaching between CERES at RUB and REL at SU. The research collaboration will take a major step forward with a joint colloquium at Syracuse on March 3-4 with ten members of the CERES faculty.

Nidan, Indian Diaspora : Migration, Identity and Ethnicity

Cover Image of Volume 3 Issue 2 of Nidan: International Journal of Indian Studies

January 6, 2019

The latest edition of Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies, co-edited by Priyanka Ramlakhan and Prea Persaud (MA '13). This edition of the journal has the theme “Indian Diaspora: Migration, Ethnicity and Identity in North American and the Caribbean,” and examines how Hinduism in North America and the Caribbean is “embodied and performed, supports and challenges gendered norms, and is contested through oral and textual traditions, digital media, and secular spaces.” It includes articles from SU Department of Religion alumnae/i and current students Aarti Patel (Ph.D.) on "Secular conflict : challenges in the construction of the Chino Hills BAPS Swaminarayan temple;" and a book review of Angela Rudert (Ph.D. '12) Shakti's New Voice.


Aarti’s article, titled “Secular Conflict: Challenges in the Construction of the Chino Hills BAPS Swaminarayan Temple,” examines the role a mandir, as a public space for worship and community engagement, plays for Hindu immigrants in the United States. In particular, Aarti’s article critically examines the local government’s decision-making process concerning the mandir and its design, and explores how democratic processes and laws impact the lives and religious expression of a diasporic Hindu community.


For More on Angela Rudert's book Shakti's New Voice see the SUREL news article.


gamevironments Video Gaming and Death

Video game controller sitting on neon blue table in an electric neon room

January 6, 2019

Ph.D. Candidate John W. Borchert edited, gamevironments #9 (2018), special issue on Video Gaming and Death. This special issue of gamevironments (the peer-reviewed journal for the International Academy for the Study of Gaming and Religion) explores what video-games can tell religious studies about death, and what religious studies can help us understand about death in games. Death has been an imminent threat to gamers since the earliest cabinet arcade games, lurking at game’s edges and directing negotiations of narrative and play. Video games in one way are about the constant presence of death, as defining the boundaries of play. After death, games ask players to try again -- video games then, in another way, are about overcoming death. The hope in curating this collection was to demonstrate how the study of video-gaming and religion can ground itself in a thematic and further itself through this investment. Many of these pieces evidence not only phenomena of death in games, but also forward theories and methods for understanding relations between video gaming and death, and each piece offers the hope of sustaining and generative work.

Contributions to the issue by Syracuse University Department of Religion include: