Coming Attractions: A Change in Format

Screenshot of computer screen during Zoom videoconference, with many participants

As communicated to all of our students over the past week, UA is maintaining limited business operations (LBO) for at least the next two weeks (and it will re-assess during that time concerning whether those conditions continue), with students asked not to return to campus. (A plan will soon be rolled out, from the central administration, concerning when those living in the residence system can return to collect their possessions.) This means that offices will not be staffed in person for the coming weeks and, instead, staff and faculty will be working remotely (in most cases, from home); the Spring semester continues, however, though classes are changing, as are the way faculty and students will interact. Continue reading

REL COVID-19 Update

Graphic from University of Alabama COVID-19 Response Site

It’s been an interesting few weeks in REL, to say the least; given the worldwide spread of COVID-19, the University of Alabama extended Spring break, asked students not to return to campus after it, and released a plan to alter how we finish the semester. Originally we planned to re-open main offices on the Monday after Spring break but the so-called limited business operation (LBO) of campus has been extended until Sunday, March 29 (with only essential employees allowed on campus) — though this is all subject to change, as UA System officials and campus leadership reassess a situation that changes daily. For example, as of March 19 the libraries closed and stop loaning material. But classes are indeed still moving to an online format, effective Monday, March 30, and your professors will be in touch — if not already — with the plan for each course. They’ve been working throughout the Spring break to devise a plan for their large lectures, seminars, independent studies, and graduate courses (just as some have been thinking up activities for their own children, who are themselves home from school). And we’ve all been in touch with each other regularly, to ensure that everyone is in the loop and doing well.

Which we all are.

So far, we’ve been communicating with everyone via email, but it seemed time to put a post up on the blog, to update everyone on a few things. Continue reading

Upcoming REL Events Canceled

Canceled Sign in an airport

With Spring break right around the corner, during which little might be taking place on campus, but happening just as the nation-wide spread of the COVID-19 virus shows no signs of slowing down, we felt that it was necessary to be proactive and to think ahead a little, so that REL students, faculty, and staff know that at least a few things are settled for the coming weeks.

Because the experts continue to tell us that not only regular hand-washing, etc. but also maintaining a strategic social distance are crucial elements to curtailing the spread of the illness — going so far as to advise against attending unnecessary large events or engaging in unnecessary travel  — we thought it wise to just go ahead now and cancel some of our upcoming events:

– The 18th annual Aronov Lecture, on April 6, with our guest lecturer coming to Alabama from New York, has been canceled and is being rescheduled for the Fall semester.

– The 7th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on March 26 is canceled.

– The 19th annual REL Honors Day reception on the balcony, on Apr. 3, is also cancelled; instead, award winners will have letters sent to them in the coming weeks.

In part because we are currently unsure what the University will be doing in the coming weeks, it pains us to send out this news now; but, ensuring that our students, staff, and faculty stay healthy and also stay informed are among our highest priorities.

Be well during the Spring break and stay in touch with UA news in case an announcement is made concerning post-Spring break classes.

New Staff Soon Joining REL

With Betty and Donna’s upcoming retirement (effective April 1 — did you see the announcement?), it’s time to announce who we’ve hired to keep both our main office and the Department as a whole on the right track.

LeCretia Crumpton will be our new full-time Administrative Secretary; she’s currently working on campus in the Department of Chemistry, where, apart from general clerical duties and working with a variety of UA systems, she’s focused on assisting their efforts to recruit and host graduate students.

LeCretia Crumption, new REL Admin Secretary

Edward Guy will be our new half-time Office Associate II (working mornings); he’s worked in a variety of staff positions at UA for about 25 years, including the Grad School and the College of Engineering.

Edward Guy, the new Office Associ II

We’re so very pleased to have both LeCretia and Edward about to join the Department. Looking back on the changes that Betty and Donna have both seen during their time in Manly Hall we’re hoping that our new staff members get to see even bigger changes as REL keeps moving forward.

REL Adds New Faculty Member

Jeri Wieringa head shotThe Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama is extremely pleased to announce that Dr. Jeri E. Wieringa — a digital historian and affiliate faculty member with the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University — will be joining the faculty as a tenure-track Assistant Professor for the start of the Fall 2020 semester. She received her Ph.D. in History from George Mason University (2019); her M.A. in Religion, with a concentration in the History of Christianity, from Yale Divinity School (2011); and her B.A from Calvin College, with double majors in Philosophy and English (2008). Continue reading

Bringing REL to San Diego–#aarsbl19 #naasr2019

San Diego Convention Center, Palm trees are in the front of it.

November is in full swing, and that means it is annual meeting season for scholars of religion. The North American Association for the Study of Religion, the American Academy of Religion, and the Society of Biblical Literature will all conference in San Diego, November 23-26. Many of our REL faculty and graduate students will be on the program. Learn a bit more about what they’ll be up to and where you can find them.

Continue reading

REL MA Students Present at Culture Studies Conference

Today’s panel with REL MA students was part of the interdisciplinary culture studies graduate student conference, planned by a grad student committee and funded through the Department of American Studies at the University of Alabama. REL was represented on the planning committee by second year MA student Keeley McMurray, and it is taking place at the Bryan Conference Center on campus. Continue reading

The Aaron Aronov Chair in Judaic Studies

We have some news: Associate Professor Daniel Levine, a faculty member in UA’s Department of Political Science, has just been appointed by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees as the Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies. He will now have a co-appointment to both Political Science and the Department of Religious Studies, teaching equally for both units — with his first REL course (a Core course on religion and politics) coming in the Spring 2020 semester.

Dr. Levine studies International Relations, political philosophy and theory, as well as Middle Eastern politics. His research draws on Frankfurt School social theory and on the history and philosophy of social science to examine the interactions between academic scholarship and public policy. Currently, his focus is on fear: both the direct experience of it, and its “afterlife” in history and public memory, as well as in the workings of political institutions and in discussions and implementations of policy. Continue reading