Santa Clara University

Religious Studies department

Student Research

Several Religious Studies majors and minors are involved in research projects with faculty members, either as researchers under faculty advisement or as research assistants on faculty projects. Current research activities include:




Independent Projects
  • Jessica Coblentz, a sophomore double-majoring in RS and Philosophy, has won one of two junior research fellowships offered by the Provost's Office for her project, "The Authorities on Contemporary Christian Social Debate in America." She will investigate the notions of authority employed in modern Catholicism and denominational Protestantism in the U.S., juxtaposing the social impacts of empowerment and subjugation resulting from their specific doctrines and various interpretations of authority. By analyzing notions of authority in contemporary American Christianity, she hopes to develop a more comprehensive understanding of controversial religious social debate. By presenting patterns and inconsistencies—between denominations and within a single denomination's notions of authority—as well as the divergence between doctrinal teachings and the practice of congregational participants, she hopes to present new insight into the civil rights and social justice debate in the U.S. Jessica's faculty mentors are Mick McCarthy, S.J. and Catherine Bell.



Student Assistance with Faculty Research
  • Jessica Coblentz, a sophomore double-majoring in RS and Philosophy, is working with Catherine Bell on research for her forthcoming book, Believing: Reflections on the Heart of Religion (targeted for publication in 2008).
  • Jennifer Grisaitis, a senior RS minor and Biology major, is assisting David Pleins with work on the question of the problem of suffering in the thought of Charles Darwin and 19th-century Natural Theology.
  • Nate Hays, a sophomore double-majoring in Religious Studies and History, just finished a book chapter with Paul Fitzgerald, SJ, titled "Married in the Eyes of God: a Spirituality for Inter-faith Marriage," to be included in the forthcoming INTAMS Companion to Marital Spirituality.
  • Courtney Magner, a sophomore Religious Studies and Poli Sci major, is working with Tom Beaudoin on a project researching the prospect of making Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States 100% free, a policy Beaudoin is advocating in his recent work.
  • Adi Raz, a former Religious Studies minor, is working with Cynthia Baker on projects dealing with: (1) women in classical rabbinic Jewish literature (for an international conference in Berlin in May) and (2) Elisha ben Abuya, a famous Jewish "heretic" of the second century (for a chapter in Baker's next book Rabbis, Jews, and Others, and a possible second book focused on ben Abuya himself).
  • Kristin Williams, a first-year student double-majoring in Religious Studies and Philosophy, is assisting Catherine Murphy with research on Roman imperial economics and its relevance for early Christian discussions of the love command.
J. David Pleins and Chandra Campbell work on Darwin research
Evolution and the Problem of Evil

Chandra Campbell assists Professor J. David Pleins with his scholarship on Charles Darwin. Click on the image to read more.

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