From the Department of Religious Studies
Spring 2022 Updated Statement
As faculty members in a public research university, we recognize our cultural and economic privilege. We are both caught up and complicit in institutions that perpetuate racism, sexism, and hegemony.
In response to the murders of Mr. Rayshard Brooks, Mr. George Floyd, Ms. Breonna Taylor, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, Mr. Trayvon Martin, Mr. Michael Brown, Mr. Eric Garner, Mr. Daunte Wright, Mr. Adam Toledo, and Ms. Ma’Khia Bryant and many others, including members of Atlanta’s Asian community, we stand with colleagues, students, and community members demonstrating against the institutions and structures that perpetuate hate and enable racist violence. As we stand together, we mourn and reflect on our personal and collective responsibilities to be actively anti-racist.
We recognize the great potential our diverse and innovative community has to overturn racist, sexist, and hegemonic structures as we reinvent it in the wake of the crises we now face. We commit to an anti-racist and inclusive environment in our department, programming, and classes. Our commitments include the following:
- We will incorporate anti-racist pedagogical training into our faculty development and GTA teaching practicums;
- All faculty attended at least one Writing Across the Curriculum equity-focused workshop and incorporated diverse pedagogical strategies they learned, including techniques that facilitate adaptive learning styles (AY 2021-22);
- Individual faculty members participated in trainings that focused on anti-racist and accessible teaching through the American Academy of Religion, the Wabash Center, the College of Arts and Sciences, and GSU’s Writing Across the Curriculum program (AY 2020-21).
- Individual faculty revised course materials to address religion and race through readings and conversations about intersectionality, change, disability, mental health, decolonialism, empire, and racial justice.
- Dr. Moultrie attended monthly meetings (Fall 2022-Spring 2023) with her Wabash Women of Color peer mentoring group dedicated to critically engaging our intersectional identities as African American women in the academy. Our sessions included attention to our professional development, reflective pedagogy, and self-care given the additional burdens experienced during the pandemic by faculty and students of color.
- We will revise materials on religion and race in RELS 2001 to incorporate current events and an anti-racist pedagogy;
- Ashlyn Strozier incorporated an emphasis on Indigenous religions of the African diaspora in the module on ritual and religion (AY 2021-22);
- In the race and religion module, Dr. Ashlyn Strozier included Dr. Miguel De La Torre’s The U.S. Immigration Crisis: Toward an Ethics of Place to broaden the discussion around race and religion (AY 2021-22);
- David Bell and our GTAs revised the module on religion and the environment with a focus on Eastern Asian interpretations of the environment and ethics of caretaking (AY 2021-22);
- David Bell and the GTAs the religion and race module by incorporating materials on Black Lives Matter, the Civil Rights movement, Black liberation theology, and Womanism (AY 2020-21); and
- David Bell and the GTAs increased the representation of diverse peoples in course media (AY 2020-21).
- We will require that all theory and methods courses include materials written by African-American scholars and other people of color;
- In teaching our graduate proseminar, Dr. Monique Moultrie assigned readings that included diverse racial and sexual identities, including Charles H. Long, Alice Walker, and Judith Butler (AY 2021-22);
- In our undergraduate theories and methods, Dr. Andrew Walker-Cornetta, included Sylvia Chan-Malik, Natalie Avalos, and M. Jacqui Alexander (AY 2021-22); and
- In RELS 3750, “Theory and Method,” Dr. James Dennis LoRusso devoted the second half of the course entirely to post-modern approaches to the study of religion. Beyond second-wave feminism, the course included sections on race, Womanism, Queer theory, and post-colonial theories of religion and identity. The entire course was framed around thinking about how the social location (gender, race, historical period) of the scholars impacted their theories/methods. (AY 2020-21)
- Dr. Moultrie published “Centering Black Women: Embodied Ethics and Womanist Ethnographic Pedagogy” in the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion journal (March 2023).
- Students in Dr. Andrew Walker-Cornetta's courses this academic year wrote positionality statements, with deliberate reflections on how racism (as well as heteronormativity, sexism, and ableism) shapes the classroom and the university. Early in the semester, in multiple courses, students watched this video on microaggressions from the University of North Texas and held an open discussion on its contents. Students also read and discussed a short excerpt from bell hooks' Teaching to Transgress in order to think through the tensions between the classroom's transformative and exclusionary potentials
- Molly Bassett edited the “Spotlight on Teaching” issue with contributions about equity-focused pedagogies that included scholars from ABD instructors through master teachers and colleagues in allied professions.
- We will amplify existing resources to help students, faculty, and staff report and respond to micro-aggressions and racism;
- Microagressions handout;
- Shared resources;
- Toward this end, in 2021-22 we commit to including an anti-racist statement on course syllabi starting Fall 2021; and
- We commit in 2021-22 to engaging with College and University administrators to develop more resources around responding to micro-aggressions and racism.
- Students and instructors co-created an intentionally anti-racist class contract to govern their classroom behavior.
- We will develop a faculty mentoring program that acknowledges the obstacles faculty of color encounter because of racism, works to undo those structures, and provides specific support for faculty of color.
- As part of this work, faculty mentoring acknowledges that women of color in the academy often are disproportionately burdened by service and works to help colleagues create balance and receive tangible support when they undertake additional service.
- As part of this work, in 2021-22 we commit as faculty to develop the skills necessary to recognize micro-aggressions and racism as they happen in classrooms or on campus and to respond to them directly without waiting for students or colleagues of color to report incidents to us.
- Led faculty conversation about equity in service assignments.
- We are developing new courses that center anti-racist pedagogies, including:
- Ashlyn Strozier taught “#MeToo: Pop Culture, Social Media, Religion, and Rape Culture” and “Black Power to Black Lives Matter: Black Religious Movements, Politics, Millennials, and Identity Formation;”
- David Bell taught “Religion and Moral Development;”
- Andrew Walker-Cornetta taught “Religion, Race, and Health in Modern America;” and
- Monique Moultrie will offer “Womanism and Social Change.”
- Kali Cape’s course, Love and Compassion in Buddhism, introduces approaches for multicultural students in the post-colonial context to study an indigenous religious tradition on its own terms while avoiding Orientalism. The syllabus was composed by a majority of black, indigenous people of color writers and The first guest speaker of the syllabus directly addressed issues of racism from a first-person perspective and discussed its relationship to the interpretations of Buddhism in the post-colonial context. This set the context for a semester-long discussion about Tibetan responses to racist, genocidal violence.
The Department of Religious Studies
Office Hours (Available Remotely):
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Office Hours (In Person):
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Director of Graduate Studies / Department Chair
Department of Religious Studies
Georgia State University
25 Park Place, Suite 1700
Atlanta, GA 30303
Department of Religious Studies
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 3994
Atlanta, GA 30302-3994