When we opened the doors of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, John Orr and I could not have foreseen the exponential growth that the center would experience. What began in 1996 as a small enterprise with two faculty members and one administrator has become a hub for numerous research initiatives here in Los Angeles and around the globe.
In Los Angeles, CRCC has a research initiative that focuses on the L.A. Dream Center. We also recently completed a study of the impact of faith-based coalitions that evolved after the civil unrest of 1992.
Through the Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative, a program funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, we are supporting innovative research on one the world’s fastest growing religious movements. PCRI has provided grants to scholars to study Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
The Center for Religion and Civic Culture is also a catalyst for partnerships between the community and the academy. For 2011, we are hosting two programs to increase the skills and networks of faith community leaders. The Passing the Mantle Clergy and Lay Leadership Institute for African American church leaders, will take place this summer. The American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, which is in its third year, empowers young leaders to help their constituencies become more civically engaged. These programs focus the resources of the academy in ways to empower community leaders to become more effective leaders in their communities.
The study of religion, which was once limited to one or two departments on the USC campus, is now an interdisciplinary enterprise. Scholars reside in departments across the university in departments such as sociology, history, political science, American studies and ethnicity, East Asian languages and cultures, the Annenberg School for Communication, and the School of Policy, Planning, and Development. Many of these scholars participate in an annual seminar sponsored by the CRCC Interdisciplinary Research Group, which is chaired by Lisa Bitel.
We hope that you will visit our new website regularly as we attempt to share what we are learning and provide information on the impact of religion in Los Angeles and beyond.
Donald E. Miller