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Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Selected for Public Scholarship Training

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College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Dheepa Sundaram joins a team of 24 outstanding scholars

Press Release  •

Sacred Writes: Public Scholarship on Religion is delighted to announce the selection of 24 outstanding scholars for their 2021 training cohort.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis of spring 2020, Sacred Writes adapted its public scholarship training model to facilitate remote learning and engagement. The increased flexibility and accessibility of this approach has allowed them to offer fellowships to a larger group of international applicants in 2021.

The 24 scholars in the 2021 training cohort will participate in real-time collaborative sessions and work through multimedia training materials at their own pace from May 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021. Each scholar receives a $1,000 stipend and commits to placing two pieces of public scholarship within a year of completing the training.

This year’s public scholarship training cohort includes:

  • Andrew Ali Aghapour, consulting scholar of religion and science for the Religion in America Initiative at the National Museum of American History, scholar of religion, science and technology in what is now the United States
  • Sahar Ahmed, PhD candidate in the School of Law at Trinity College Dublin, scholar of the right to freedom of religion under International Human Rights Law and Islamic jurisprudence
  • Kecia Ali, professor of religion at Boston University, scholar of Islamic law, women and gender, ethics, and biography
  • Akissi Britton, assistant professor of Africana studies at Rutgers University, scholar of African diasporic religions, race, ethnicity/national identity and gender, Black digital studies, Black feminisms, and the impact of gentrification on diasporic religious communities
  • Samah Choudhury, assistant professor of religious studies at Ithaca College, scholar of Islam, humor and the politics that accompany what it means to be socially legible in the United States
  • Caleb Elfenbein, associate professor of history and religious studies and director of the Center for Humanities at Grinnell College, scholar of religion, community, public life and human welfare
  • Amanda Furiasse, visiting professor of religion at Hamline University and co-director of the Contagion, Religion, and Cities Project at the Center for the Study of Religion and the City at Morgan State University, scholar of religion, health and technology
  • James Howard Hill, Jr., Ph.D. candidate in religion at Northwestern University, scholar of religion, concepts of celebrity and the politics of Black popular culture in the post-civil rights era
  • Adrienne Krone, assistant professor of religious studies and director of Jewish Life at Allegheny College, scholar of contemporary religious food justice movements in North America
  • Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada, assistant professor of religion at Kalamazoo College, scholar of material culture, Catholicism and embodiment
  • N.A. Mansour, Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies, scholar of history and the transition between manuscript and print in Arabic-language contexts
  • Anne Mocko, associate professor of Asian religions at Concordia College, scholar of ritual in the religions of South Asia
  • Kori Pacyniak, Ph.D. student at the University of California, Riverside, scholar of queer and trans studies in religion
  • Kristian Petersen, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University, scholar of Islam in China and Muslims in films
  • Krista Melanie Riley, pedagogical advisor at Vanier College in Montreal, Quebec, scholar of communication studies, gender, bodies and sexuality on Muslim feminist blogs
  • Jorge Juan Rodríguez V, Ph.D. candidate in history at Union Theological Seminary and associate director for strategic programming at the Hispanic Summer Program, scholar of religion and progressive social movements, social theory and liberation theology
  • Lee Scharnick-Udemans, senior researcher in the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice at the University of the Western Cape, scholar of religious diversity, pluralism, the political economy of religion, new religious movements and the media
  • Shannon Trosper Schorey, content strategist at Red Hat, scholar of science and technology studies, American religious history, media studies and culture
  • Annie Selak, associate director of the Women's Center at Georgetown University, scholar of systemic theology, racism and sexism in the Roman Catholic Church, and trauma theory
  • Dheepa Sundaram, assistant professor of Hindu studies and critical theory and digital religion at the University of Denver, scholar of performance, ritual, yoga and digital culture in South Asia
  • Jolyon Thomas, assistant professor and interim graduate chair of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, scholar of religion and media, religious freedom, religion and education, and religion and capitalism
  • Kaitlyn Ugoretz, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, scholar of Japanese religions, globalization, media and digital technology
  • Alana Vincent, associate professor of Jewish philosophy, religion and imagination at the University of Chester, scholar of post-Holocaust Jewish thought, Jewish-Christian dialogue and popular culture
  • Brook Wilensky-Lanford, associate editor of the Commons at the Association for Public Religion and Intellectual Life, scholar of utopias, origin stories, religious liberalism and spirituality

Sacred Writes is a Henry Luce Foundation-funded project hosted by Northeastern University that trains academics to translate their expertise for a broader audience and partners with established media outlets to facilitate collaborations with scholars. Since its inception in 2018, Sacred Writes has helped 41 scholars of religion place 140 print, audio and video pieces with 52 media outlets, including the Washington Post, The Hindu, Bitch Media, PRI’s The World and CBS Religion.

Sacred Writes’ signature training is designed to cultivate practical skills for producing public-facing work based on a scholar’s area of expertise, as well as to build a community of accountability and support. The trainings cover topics such as pitching and writing op-eds, using social media to build community and amplify scholarship, collaborating with journalists, preparing for live work, and assessing the personal and professional risks of public engagement.

For more information about this project, visit or contact primary investigator Liz Bucar at Follow Sacred Writes on Twitter @Sacred_Writes.

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