Message from the Director

Dear Alumni and Friends,

I would like to thank you for your ongoing support of the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion and the Interdisciplinary Program (IDP) in the Study of Religion. We could not accomplish our important work without you—our alumni and friends—who are our community partners in excellence. I encourage you to take a moment to make a contribution; it will be a worthwhile investment. Your gift will make a significant and immediate impact by providing vital resources and allowing us to support our most valuable programs. Your donation might even be eligible to be matched by your employer, thus doubling its impact; please check the Gift Options section of our webpage.

Since coming to UCLA in 2002, I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the unstinting commitment of my predecessors, Scott Bartchy, Ra’anan Boustan and Jacco Dieleman. Their tireless dedication is evidenced in the astounding success of our Center and IDP. I am proud to take their lead and build on the strong foundation that they, with the generous support of faculty, alumni and donors, have established. We are all especially grateful to Scott Bartchy who made his vision of a Center a reality in 1995.

We are proud to play a role in promoting scholarly research in the academic field of religious studies not only for UCLA faculty, and students on campus, but also for the wider Los Angeles community. As a first-rate public university committed to academic freedom, open debate, and dialogue, we are willing to do the hard work of penetrating rigorous conversations that are at the core of religious studies, and understanding religion’s impact on cultures, societies, and individuals. Our ability to provide high quality programming with sponsored seminars, lectures, conferences, film screenings, and artistic performances that explore the role of religious ideas and practices, enables the Center to engage a much larger audience.

Year after year the IDP attracts students of the highest caliber who are eager to engage philosophical, social, cultural, literary and historical issues as they relate to the study of religion. To expand on this success, we are making changes to the major. The new structure will offer a curriculum that treats Study of Religion as a field with its own history, theoretical foundations, and methods of inquiry, while at the same time equipping students with the tools to study specific traditions. This structure will provide students with an overview of the study of religion, as well as an introduction to religious traditions for comparative purposes. It will also afford students an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of a religious tradition, or family of religions.

The Center actively seeks partners in several initiatives. We are grateful for your generous support of and engagement with the Center. Your commitment and participation enables us to take a leading role in the field at one of the most prestigious public research universities in the world. I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events or hearing from you in the coming year.

Carol Bakhos

Director, Center for the Study of Religion
Chair, IDP in the Study of Religion
Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures