Letter from the Chair: October 2020

Welcome to the Department of Religious Studies news site!

These have been difficult months for everyone, and so it will come as no surprise that at Manhattan College and in our department we’ve had many struggles to overcome and many new things to learn. We’re teaching simultaneously in the classroom and online for students who cannot attend in person, and that comes with a host of challenges for our faculty and our students. Nevertheless, we are working our way forward this semester and striving to provide our students with a first-rate education in the patterns and practices of contemporary religion.

For obvious reasons, we don’t have as many events scheduled as we typically do; but nevertheless we are working to support a few interesting speakers in the fall semester and, in particular, we’re trying to establish a robust spring program of events and collaborations.

We’re attempting new outreach to our students to provide possible avenues of research. We’re building new courses to extend ourselves into the future. And, as always, we’re working to offer the best possible classroom experience to our students, including those who can attend in person and those who cannot.

On the research front, of course we have had disruptions for people whose studies involve travel to archives or to conduct research, but we’re moving forward all the same. This year, Dr. Ahern and Dr. Shefferman are each scheduled for a one-semester sabbatical. Dr. Setzer and Dr. Shefferman just released the latest book in the Department’s arsenal: The Bible in the American Experience. They expertly shepherded a tremendous collection of scholars to contribute to this volume on behalf of the Society of Biblical Literature and the book will no doubt be a tremendous contribution to global understanding of the Bible. The picture is me with an unidentified inscription stone located in Bangalore, India in 2019. Hopefully I'll be back in the field for more research soon!

We are all facing the fallout from the global pandemic, and I hope that as you read this letter you are feeling safe and healthy. Keep wearing your mask to protect one another, and let’s hope that as the academic year progresses we see better days coming!