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Department of Religious Studies

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Joint Doctoral Program Students win TAK Awards

Please join us in congratulating two of our Joint Doctoral Program students, who have won Theta Alpha Kappa's 2019 Albert Clark Award Competition. The Clark Award recognizes the best graduate and under-graduate essays in Religious Studies and Theology. 


Graduate Student Category: 

Joshua Paul Smith, University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology: “From the Altar to the Abattoir: The Evolving Figure of the Bovine in Jewish Text and Art” 


Runner-Up, Rebecca M. David Hensley, University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology: “Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? Misogyny, Pornography, and a Feminist Ethic of Erotic Justice” 


These essays will appear in the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 issues of The Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa. The winner receives $500 and the runner-up $250.


Rev. Dr. Wallace Clift jr. passes away

The Rev. Dr. Wallace Bruce Clift Jr., professor of religious studies at the University of Denver and former chair of the department died at his home in Olympia, WA, on February 5, 2018, at age 91.

Wallace Clift was born March 27, 1926 in Robert Lee, Texas. He went to University of Texas at age 17. In 1944, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving in intelligence and then helping Korea's education ministry transition to independence. He returned in 1948 and completed his bachelor's degree in 1949. After earning a law degree from Harvard University (1952), he worked in Washington D.C. for a year before joining Baker, Botts, Andrews, & Parish in Houston. There he met and married fellow attorney Jean Dalby, on January 23, 1954.

In 1957, Wallace and Jean left to attend Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA. After earning a Master of Divinity degree in 1960, Wallace returned to Houston, where he was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. In 1964, Wallace and Jean received a joint grant to study at C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. Upon their return, and Wallace earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology of religion at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Clift taught psychology of religion at the University of Denver from 1969 to 1992, serving as chair of the department for many years. He helped start a joint Ph.D. program with Iliff School of Theology in 1981. He co-founded the Jung Society of Colorado in 1976. Wallace served as an associate clergy member of St. John's Episcopal Cathedral in Denver.

Wallace Clift's first book, Jung and Christianity, was published in 1982, frequently reprinted, and translated to Korean. With wife Jean, he wrote Symbols of Transformation in Dreams (1984), The Hero Journey in Dreams (1988), and The Archetype of Pilgrimage (1996). Wallace published two books of spiritual guidance, Journey into Love: Road Signs along the Way (1990) and How to Make Love and Other Godly Thoughts (2012), as well as articles and encyclopedia entries.

After retirement from the University of Denver in 1992, Dr. Clift was appointed Canon Theologian of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and invited to head the Anglican Studies program at St. Thomas Theological Seminary. When St. Thomas closed in 1995, Dr. Clift helped negotiate the program's move to the Iliff School of Theology. A scholarship for students in Iliff's Anglican Studies Program was endowed in the Clifts' honor in 2000. In 2002, Wallace was named Canon Theologian Emeritus. The Church Divinity School of the Pacific awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2003.

Throughout his life, Dr. Clift gave lectures and workshops throughout the world. Boundless curiosity took him to all seven continents, 93 countries, and every state.

A memorial service will be held at St. John's Episcopal Church, Olympia, March 17 at 4 pm. Memorial gifts may be made to the Wallace B. and Jean Dalby Clift Scholarship Fund at the Iliff School of Theology, Denver ( with "Clift Scholarship" in memo) or St. John's Episcopal Church, Olympia (

Major rebecca kelley receives DU pins grant

Please join us in congratulating RLGS major Rebecca Kelley on receiving a Partners in Scholarship (PinS) Grant of $1,500 for her project "Project Alamanci" through the University of Denver's Undergraduate Research Center!

Rebecca explains that the aim of her project is "to analyze social trends of Turkish nationals within German-Turkish communities in Berlin, Germany and to investigate how nationalism is maintained within a community that is far from its formal borders. Our goal is to facilitate an innovative approach to understanding conflict resolution and to reconcile examples of the past to current models. We are trying to examine the change in nationalism and sense of home from past to present; more broadly, a changing sense of 'Turkishness.'"

THE dead sea scrolls are coming to denver!

The Dead Sea Scrolls will be making their way to Denver this Spring. 

After years of working on arrangements with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Sturm Family Foundation, our very own Dr. Alison Schofield has succeeded in helping bring the Dead Sea Scrolls to Denver.

The exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science will open on March 16, 2018.The experience will also include a re-creation of the Western Wall where guests may leave handwritten notes that will be sent to Israel and placed at the wall.
We will share updates and ticket information closer to Spring. Read more here.

RLGS Faculty To Teach Comparative REligions Course For Fall 2017 DU Enrichment Program

This autumn, several Religious Studies faculty will teach a campus enrichment course titled: Religion Matters: A Comparative Study of the World's Great Religious Traditions. Faculty members Dixon, Ishimatsu, Nourse, Raschke, Robbins, Schofield, and Stanton will teach a six-week course that introduces Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Ishimatsu, Nourse, Robbins, Schofield, and Stanton will provide an historical perspective on the religion that they study along with insight into its worldview, sacred texts and rituals. The course will conclude with a comparative round-table facilitated by Raschke and Dixon. For more information on the course, please visit the DU Enrichment Program website.

Former Postdoctoral Scholar Nicole Willock Awarded Prestigious American COuncil of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship

Dr. Nicole Willock, who served as a postdoctoral teaching fellow in Buddhist studies in the Department of Religious Studies, 2011-2014, has been awarded a prestigious American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) fellowship for 2017-18. Currently an assistant professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, she was awarded the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowship in Buddhist Studies for her research project, "Lineages of the Literary: Tibetan Buddhist Scholars Making Modern China". 

Dr. Benjamin Nourse joins the dept. as Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Benjamin Nourse as a permanent member of the Department of Religious Studies! Dr. Nourse has been with us the past few years as a Visiting Assistant Professor. After months of searching, interviews, and campus visits, Dr. Nourse has accepted our offer and will be our new Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies!

If you're taking one of his classes this quarter or pass him in the hallway, be sure to congratulate him!

Dr. Stanton & Dr. Kaneva receive AHSS DAIS grant

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Andrea Stanton and Dr. Nadia Kaneva (Media, Film & Journalism at DU) for receiving a Dean's Award for Interdisciplinary Studies (DAIS) grant for their project Speaking Like a State? Analyzing Discourses of Statehood in ISIS' Public Media!

DUGood: "Denver - A lab for studying lived religion"

The department launched its first DUGood crowdfunding project "Denver - A Lab for Studying Lived Religion" on Tuesday, February 14. We hope to raise $1,200 for a Friday workshop this fall on lived religion designed to familiarize both our undergraduate and graduate students with our unique, experiential, observational approach to the academic study of religion. 

Click here for more information and to donate. 

Dr. Leon receives grant from the louisville institute

Dr. Luis Leon recently received a $25,000 grant from the Louisville Institute to support his project "Testify: Mapping Conversion Narratives among Latino Pentecostal Men." If you see Dr. Leon over, please join us in congratulating him!

Read the project description here.

Dr. Sundaram to co-edit Purāṇa-s reader

VTAP Dr. Dheepa Sundaram recently signed a deal to co-edit a Purāṇa-s reader with Deven Patel (University of Pennsylvania) for release in Autumn 2018. Congratulations, Dheepa!

"From God to Mammon" w/ Dr. Carl Raschke

Did you miss Dr. Carl Raschke's lecture "From God to Mammon: The 'Deep Theology' of Contemporary Neo-Liberalism" on November 3? Don't worry, you can watch his lecture below!

Source: DU VideoManager


2016 RLGS Research grant recipients

Please join the department in congratulating Sharon Saltoon for receiving the 2016 Religious Studies Distinction in the Major Research Grant and Madison Tarleton for receiving the 2016 Religious Studies MA Research Grant! We are so proud of you both and are excited to see the results of your work!

Assistant to the Chair receives du staff innovator award

Assistant to the Chair Alyssa Boltinghouse recently received the DU Staff Innovator Award. Click here to read the article and watch a short video from the award ceremony. Congratulations, Alyssa!

Watch "Reclaiming the Unconscious" conference

Did you miss the "Reclaiming the Unconscious" conference 10/21-10/23/16? Don't fret - you can watch five different segments on our You Tube page by clicking here.

New Muslim Cool article

Sacred Matters recently published an article on the documentary New Muslim Cool (2009) being used as a tool in the classroom. If you've ever taken a course with Dr. Luis Leon, you've likely watched this documentary. Find out more about New Muslim Cool by reading the article here!

7/26/16 Dr. Carl Raschke "Crisis of representation in the global society" lecture at University of Vienna

Dr. Carl Raschke's lecture "Crisis of Representation in the Global Society" given at the University of Vienna on July 26th is now available to read on the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory's website. 

Read part one here and part two here.

View photos from the lecture here.

Dr. Andrea Stanton interviewed by cctv on isil

Dr. Andrea Stanton was recently interviewed by CCTV America on Levi "Jack" Shirley and the fight against ISIL. You can watch the piece here:

Dr. Gregory Robbins interviewed for DU Newsroom's article "Mother Teresa's path to sainthood"

"The process to sainthood isn't a 'slam dunk,' Robbins explains. Once an individual is nominated for canonization and their name is admitted for consideration, a case is built. But this process cannot begin until five years after the individual's death — unless, however, the waiting period is waived by the Supreme Pontiff. This was done in the case of Mother Teresa when Pope John Paul II waived three years of the period."

Dr. Gregory Robbins was recently interviewed by the DU Newsroom on the canonization of Mother Teresa. Read "Mother Teresa's Path to Sainthood" by clicking here!

Dr. Andrea Stanton at MENA's Inaugural conference 10/23/15

Dr. Andrea Stanton's paper "Rethinking Sovereignty through a Levantine Lens" was presented at MENA's Inaugural Conference on Friday, October 23, 2015. You can watch her talk below!

Our Courses - YouTube

Hear our Religious Studies undergraduate and graduate students chat about their favorite courses and most rewarding experiences!

Alumnus gabe rusk featured in du magazine

"The second most consequential moment at DU was my choice to randomly take a class on the Quran. I was a philosophy major at that point and hadn't thought about religious studies. I wanted to take a course to meet a prereq, and it fit the bill. Andrea Stanton's class changed my world. There were only four or five of us in the class, and I came to love studying religion after that. I declared myself a double major a month or two later."

RLGS alumnus Gabe Rusk is featured as the alumni spotlight in the University of Denver Magazine. Read more on his journey to Oxford for his Religious Studies MA and what's next here!

Drs. Dixon, Robbins, & Stanton Receive Moreland Grant

As part of a three-course departmental initiative, Drs. Sandra Dixon, Gregory Robbins, and Andrea Stanton have each received a $2,500 stipend as part of their joint Joseph I. Moreland Fund for Information Literacy Programs Grant.

"The Joseph I. Moreland Fund for Information Literacy Programs is a three-year pilot program designed to support the library's goal of embedding research instruction into all undergraduate majors. The program awards instructional development grants of $2,500 to instructors who would like to design or revise an undergraduate major course, in collaboration with their subject librarian, in order to infuse an entire course with information literacy and research skills."

Working with University librarian Peggy Keeran, Drs. Dixon, Robbins, and Stanton will embed research instruction into three of their courses (Culture, Psyche, and Religion; Jesus on the Silver Screen; and Islamic Fundamentalism) that comprise important elements of the undergraduate major in Religious Studies.

Please join us in congratulating Drs. Dixon, Robbins, and Stanton!

Dr. Andrea Stanton awarded 2016 Kathleen Connolly-Weinert Leader-of-the-Year Award

Dr. Andrea Stanton has been selected by the Board of Theta Alpha Kappa as the 2016 recipient of the Kathleen Connolly-Weinert Leader-of-the-Year Award for her work as moderator for the Alpha Lambda Zeta chapter. Congratulations, Dr. Stanton!

If you are interested in joining the University of Denver's chapter, click here for more information.

RLGS Welcomes Dr. Dheepa Sundaram as 2016-2017 VTAP in Hindu Studies

Please join RLGS in officially welcoming Dr. Dheepa Sundaram as our Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor in Hindu Studies for the 2016-2017 academic year. Dr. Sundaram just completed a postdoctoral research scholar at Columbia University, where she worked with a NEH-sponsored team on the encoding and digital conversion of Sanskrit texts. She received her PhD. in comparative and world literatures from the University of Illinois. Her research interests include Sanskrit drama, poetics and literature, religion and performance, and aesthetics and nationalism(s) in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Since completing her doctorate, she has taught courses in Hinduism, Asian religions and Sanskrit in the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University (Bloomington), and served as a lecturer in the South Asian Summer Language Institute at the University of Wisconsin Madison (Madison). We are thrilled to have Dr. Sundaram join us this year!

Dr. Andrea Stanton interviewed by LA Times

"Stereotypes of Islam — including the belief that Muslims mostly live in the Middle East — have a long thread throughout history, said Andrea Stanton, an expert in Islamic studies at the University of Denver. Americans inherited the idea from Europeans, specifically from British and French traditions, she said.

'It's one of the hardest set of assumptions to challenge,' she added, but 'the separation of church and state does not mean everyone should pass as white mainline Protestant.'"

Dr. Andrea Stanton was recently interviewed by the LA Times on Bosnian Muslims. You can read the full article here.

Dr. Luis Leon promoted to Full Professor

RLGS is thrilled to announce that Dr. Luís León has been promoted from Associate to Full Professor.

We are so proud, and so lucky to have him as a colleague, scholar, and teacher in this department. If you see him on campus this summer, or are in touch by email, please be sure to congratulate him!

Interview w/ Dr. Nadia Marzouki

This May, Danny Postel of the University of Denver's Center for Middle East Studies interviewed visiting Marsico scholar Nadia Marzouki while she was in Denver for her talk "Tunisian Politics in 2016: Revolution, Reform or Restoration?" Marzouki is a Tunisian scholar and Research Fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, author of 'L'Islam, une religion américaine?' (Islam, An American Religion?) and co-editor of 'Religious Conversions in the Mediterranean World' and 'Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion' (forthcoming in October 2016).

You can watch the interview here.

MA Student Padraic Fitzgerald published in JCRT

Graduating RLGS MA student Padraic Fitzgerald's article "Biopolitics and Vajrayana Buddhism" was recently published online in the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory. Congratulations, Padraic!

You can read the first of three parts here.

Dr. Alison Schofield & the DEAD SEA SCROLLS

RLGS is excited to announce Dr. Alison Schofield as one of the three editors of the 15-volume series The Dead Sea Scrolls Editions, featuring a few texts that have never been published. Dr. Schofield is the first American scholar and first woman to be named as an editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls. You can read more about her new role here.

Dr. Schofield is currently working in the Dead Sea Scrolls lab in the Israel Museum where she has reported some breaking news – a new, nearly-complete papyrus manuscript was looted from a "new" cave in the Dead Sea area. This presents a remarkable new find, and after recovering the manuscript, the IAA is now launching a two-week excavation of this cave near the Dead Sea. There has not been an excavation of this kind in the area in the past 30-35 years, and the director of the IAA has invited Dr. Schofield to participate. You can read the official press release here.

Dr. Schofield recently gave the 2016 Livingston Lecture How the Bible Became a Book: The Rise of Scripture in Judaism and Christianity on Monday, May 2nd. You can watch the lecture below. 


Please join the Department in congratulating our undergraduate award winners:

Sharon Saltoon, Gregory A. Robbins Award

Paul Sherman, Gregory A. Robbins Award

We are proud of all our students and their many accomplishments in scholarship and service.