The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture studies, documents and helps communities understand the changes that shape religious cultures in Southern California and across the globe.
The idea for the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) started to germinate in 1992, as the conflagrations of the Los Angeles riots were just beginning to subside. A number of civic, corporate and interreligious coalitions were formed to bring healing to a deeply divided city and to begin to address the underlying social problems that had provided tinder for the flames. CRCC’s founders were closely observing this activity in the public square, especially when congregations took a leading role. As these collaborative relationships developed, CRCC was conceived as a way to make creative connections between diverse groups of researchers, policy-makers and religious community leaders, in order to produce new insights into the evolving nature of religion in complex, globalizing societies.
CRCC’s capacities and reservoirs of knowledge are thus a distinctive hybrid. Both locally and globally, we are deeply networked in a variety of religious, civic and scholarly communities, which enables us to undertake cutting-edge research on new developments in religious culture. Our close familiarity with the ways that religious traditions and movements grow and change also allows us to facilitate new modes of engagement between faith groups and the broader social landscapes that they inhabit.
In short, CRCC is uniquely positioned to study, document and help communities understand the changes that shape religious cultures in Southern California and across the globe.
Our activities and initiatives are clustered in five areas of expertise:
- Congregations and Religious Practice
- Moral, Social and Political Issues
- Populations and Generational Change
- Civic Engagement
- Southern California and the World
Some of our recent and ongoing work includes building capacity in Muslim and African American and Latino Christian communities, scholarly research on Pentecostalism in the global South, bridging governmental and congregational disaster preparedness and response programs, and a large study of religious (and irreligious) creativity in Southern California, Seoul and Hong Kong.
Since its inception, CRCC has managed more than $40 million in funding from corporations, foundations and government agencies for research and capacity-building programming. In 2002, CRCC was named a Pew Center of Excellence, one of ten university-based research centers to receive that recognition. CRCC is also involved in the creation of scholarly resources, including the International Mission Photography Archive, the largest online repository of missionary photographs that document social change in non-Western cultures. Today, our staff includes 15 research, programming, communications and administrative professionals, along with dozens of contributing scholars, university fellows, student workers and consultants.
CRCC’s deep roots in Southern California mean that we remain committed to research in Los Angeles, even as we continue to promote scholarship across disciplinary boundaries, create resources for researchers, policy-makers, communities and thought-leaders, and explore religion’s global reach.