The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture explores how religions change and make change in Southern California and across the globe.
As a research center at the University of Southern California, the Center for Religion and Civic Culture is committed to developing knowledge about how religion shapes people and the world. CRCC’s work is grounded in the empirical study of religion, bringing together a creative team of researchers, journalists and religious leaders in a collaborative environment. Our goal is to bring academic research and community knowledge together to create a positive impact in society.
The idea for 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 heal the deeply divided city and to address the underlying social problems that had provided tinder for the flames.
CRCC’s founders set out to research the role of faith groups in the public square following the uprising. They wrote a report called “Politics of the Spirit,” documenting and evaluating the activities of congregations.
The Center for Religion and Civic Culture came out of this research project and report. CRCC was conceived as a way to make creative connections between 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 a distinctive hybrid. Both locally and globally, our deep networks within a variety of religious, civic and scholarly worlds enable us to undertake cutting-edge research on new developments in religion. This research allows us to help faith groups engage with the wider society through civic engagement and leadership training. We also help people within academia, civic organizations, government agencies, foundations and businesses engage with faith groups.
In short, CRCC is uniquely positioned to explore how religions change and make change in Southern California and across the globe—and to help religious and civic leaders understand the shifts of the day.
CRCC’s work falls into four activities, with research grounding the other three areas:
- Research: CRCC explores religious developments locally and globally from an interdisciplinary perspective
- Training: CRCC leads capacity-building programs for religious organizations, civic leaders and government agencies
- Evaluation: CRCC analyzes and assesses initiatives and programs focused on faith communities
- Strategic Consulting: CRCC illuminates trends in religion for foundations, government agencies and organizations to help them shape their strategy and maximize their impact
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 and Seoul.
Since its inception, CRCC has managed more than $40 million in funding from corporations, foundations and government agencies for research, consulting, evaluation 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 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.
Explore our Findings
To explore what we have learned from our research, please click on “Expertise” above or peruse our work by category: