Bobbi Patterson Receives 2015 Thomas Jefferson Award

patterson-bobbiBobbi Patterson, a longtime Emory administrator and faculty member in the Department of Religion, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award, which honors a member of the faculty or staff for significant service to the university through personal activities, influence and leadership.

Patterson joined Emory professionally in 1981 as associate university chaplain and, in the intervening decades, has served as dean of students, director of the Emory Scholars Program, founder of the Theory-Practice Learning (TPL) Program, a faculty associate of the Office of Sustainability Initiatives, and now professor of pedagogy in the Department of Religion. She earned her PhD in interdisciplinary studies from Emory in 1994.

In addition, she served on the task force that led to the creation of the Emory Center for Women and on the Task Force on Dissent, Protest and Community that led to the university’s current Open Expression Policy; and chaired the first president’s task force on LGBT issues.

Through her scholarship on community-partnered learning and service, she founded the TPL Program, which offered workshops, trainings and placement coordination for faculty and community leaders. She has remained engaged in community-partnered teaching and research through Emory’s Center for Community Partnerships.

Among other programs she has initiated is Emory as Place, a program of the Office of Sustainability Initiatives designed to educate students, staff and faculty about Emory’s living systems, built environments, human histories and values.

See news article

Profs. Blumenthal, Hofmann, Lesser and Goldstein Receive Recognition

David Blumenthal, Jay & Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies in the Department of Religion, is the subject of a recently published book, David R. Blumenthal: Living with God and Humanity. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron W. Hughes, the book is the seventh in the series Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers.

Richie Hofmann, a Creative Writing Fellow in Emory College, has won the Beatrice Hawley Award for Poetry, given annually by Alice James Books. The award includes publication of a book-length poetry manuscript and a cash prize of $2,000. Hofmann’s first book of poetry, Second Empire, will be published in November 2015 by Alice James Books.

Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History and chair of the Department of History, and Eric Goldstein, associate professor of history, are among contributing authors to the winner of the National Jewish Book Award. Both have chapters in the anthology 1929: Mapping the Jewish World, edited by Hasia R. Diner and Gennady Estraikh and published by New York University Press.

Source: Emory Report’s “Acclaim” Feature

Studying Religion at Emory — What Students and Alumni Say

Check out what students and alumni are saying about Emory’s Religion Department in this new video. They talk about being interested in “big human experiences” and describe a department that helps them question the boundaries set up between disciplines. It’s also a department where “you can tailor your classes and bring them back to other fields,” Leslie Munoz 11C says.

“You can be given such amazing gifts as a religion major,” says Mary Claire Magruder 11C. “The compassion that religion majors have is truly unique.”

Related Media

Following an induction of new students into Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religion, the Department of Religion sponsored a talk by Samuel Freedman about reporting on religion (March 25, 2014). Freedman is an award-winning author, columnist, and professor. A columnist for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia University, he is the author of the seven acclaimed books, most recently “Breaking The Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Game and Changed the Course of Civil Rights” (2013).

Emory Tibetan Studies Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary. Video about the 10th anniversary of the Emory Tibetan Studies Program and the University’s close relationship with the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in Dharamsala, India. Students and faculty talk about the experience of working and living with monastics in the Dharamsala community, and how the initial partnership has developed over the last 10 years.

College Seniors and Alumni Receive Fulbright Awards


Eight Emory students have received national Fulbright scholarships to travel internationally to teach English or conduct research for one year.

The Emory awardees were Michal Schatz (‘13C), Kari Leibowitz (‘12C), College seniors Alizeh Ahmad (photo above), Celeste Banks, Bryan Cronan, Christopher Linnan, Ben Sollenberger and Abigail Weisberger. College seniors received English Teaching Assistantships (ETA), with Banks headed to Taiwan, Ahmad and Cronan to Malaysia, Linnan to Indonesia, Sollenberger to Turkey and Weisberger to Germany. Schatz and Leibowitz were awarded research grants in France and Norway, respectively.

Ahmad (see link below to YouTube video) said she was interested in Malaysia because she has family ties to the country. Her uncle emigrated from Pakistan to Malaysia, and his experiences have taught her the parallels between her own Pakistani heritage and Malaysian culture. Specifically, as an International Studies and Religion major, Ahmad said she is excited to learn about the diverse Muslim communities in Malaysia.

See full article in Emory Wheel

See YouTube video of Alizeh Ahmad talking about her passion for the study of religion at Emory.


Bonna Wescoat (Art History) and Joyce Flueckiger (Religion) Win Guggenheims

guggenheim_awards520(Wescoat, left, and Flueckiger — Photo by Emory Photo/Video)

Bonna Wescoat, professor of art history, and  Joyce Flueckiger, professor of religion, are among 178 scholars, artists and scientists honored with Guggenheim Fellowships for 2014.

Wescoat will draw on more than a quarter century of field experience on the Greek island of Samothrace to write about the mystery cult of the Megaloi Theoi, the “Great Gods,” and its sanctuary, where she serves as director of excavations under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Flueckiger will spend the 2014–2015 academic year writing “Material Acts: The Agency of Materiality in India,” a book that will build on her three previous ethnographic research projects to examine a range of different kinds of material that are not usually included in the study of religion, such as saris and wedding pendants.

See news release

Related Video

Seeing Is Believing (Emory students under the direction of Bonna Wescoat, Professor of Greek Art and Architecture, address the longstanding question of why an ornate frieze was located in a seemingly obscure position high on the outside wall of the Parthenon.)

Congratulations to Faculty

Sandra Lynn Blakely (Classics) has been named a Getty Scholar for the 2013-2014 academic year. This year’s honorees will study the art-historical impact of maritime transport. Blakely’s specific topic is “Seafaring and the Sacred: Maritime Networks and the Cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace.”



Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) was selected to serve as Emory’s participant in the HERS Wellesley Institute. The Institute is an educational non-profit providing leadership and management development for women in higher education administration.


Tibet Week Talks Focus on Self-Immolation in Tibet

Two talks held in conjunction with Emory’s Tibet Week, an annual celebration of the culture of traditional and contemporary Tibet, focused on self-immolation practices in Tibet.

Lobsang Nyandak, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative to the United States, spoke about the more than 100 Tibetan self-immolations and the Tibetan Buddhist cultural attitude towards confronting injustice. Chinese government policies concerning Tibet and basic human rights violations have led to the utter frustration and desperation of Tibetans, leaving them with no choice but to self-immolate in order to draw international attention.  He also addressed the Tibetan Buddhist cultural attitude towards confronting injustice.

Sherab Woeser, editor-in-chief of, described current conditions in Tibet related to the flow of news and communications. Previously, he served as the editor of “Tibetan Bulletin” and Tibetan Youth Congress’s Rangzen magazine.

Tibet Week events include lectures, panel discussions, meditation, films and music.

Visual Awareness May Bridge Science and Religion

Alex Escobar, a senior lecturer in Emory University’s Department of Biology and dean of science education in Emory College, talks about visual awareness in this new YouTube video.

He feels we produce bits of awareness in our brain’s cortex, or “qualia,” much like the points of color in a Seurat painting that create an overall understanding (of the sky, trees, people on the lakeshore, etc.). This understanding holds great implications for science and religion — and the seams between the two.

“You are the scene that you are perceiving,” he says. “Everything that you experience is actually part of who you are.”

For more details on the scientific underpinnings of his theory, see his 2011 article, Escobar, A. “Qualia as the fundamental nature of visual awareness.” Journal of Theoretical Biology 279 (2011): 172-176.

Also check out his 2009 essay, “What Do We Really See?”

Celebrating 12 Years of the Tibetan Studies Semester Abroad Program

Emory undergraduates, joined by students from other top American and Canadian colleges, participate in a highly competitive one-semester study-abroad program in Dharamsala that fully immerses them in the life of the Tibetan exile community’s intellectual, cultural, and political capital. Established in 2001, and co-directed by Dr. Tara Doyle of Emory’s Religion Department, the program’s unique combination of academic rigor, cultural immersion, contemplative studies, and field research has quickly made it a life-transforming experience for students and one of the finest Tibetan study-abroad programs in the nation. Highlights of the program were featured in this video, first shown at a meeting between staff and faculty from Emory and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, India (March 2012).

See the “Emory Report” article about the 10th anniversary reunion of students in the program

Kevin Kruse (Princeton) on “One Nation Under God”

Kevin Kruse, associate professor of history at Princeton University, delivers the back story (“One Nation Under God: Corporate Interests, Christianity, and the Rise of Religious Nationalism in America”) on the rise of the religious right and the social movement’s intersections with corporate America and matters of human rights, as part of Emory’s J. Harvey Young Lecture in American History (Feb. 17, 2012). The talk also served as the keynote address for the first-ever Atlanta Graduate Student Conference in U.S. History.