Category: News

Black Gods of the Asphalt author Onaje Woodbine Profiled by the New York Times

April 22nd, 2016 in Alumni News, News

onajephotoGDRS Alum (PhD 2014) Onaje Woodbine, whose post-graduate theater production and op-ed writing we have previously featured on our site was profiled by the New York Times in anticipation of publication of his first book. Based on his dissertation, Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop and Street Basketball will be available for purchase starting May 24th. You can view and order this book as well as other books authored by GDRS alumni on our Amazon astore.

GDRS Alum Calls for a Rethinking of Collegiate Sports Culture

April 4th, 2016 in Alumni News, News

GDRS Alum Onaje Woodbine (PhD 2014) has pursued an extremely unique line of academic inquiry, both as a GDRS student and since his graduation. His dissertation, titled “The Power of Social Practice: African American Street Basketball and Embodied Spirit” was based on narratives he collected from street basketball players. The stories he collected in his field work were woven into a theatrical performance entitled “In the Paint,” which premiered in Harlem, New York City shortly after Dr. Woodbine’s graduation.

Dr. Woodbine is currently a full-time instructor in philosophy and religious studies at Phillips Academy, Andover. He continues to engage the intersections between basketball, the embodied experience and philosophy. His first book Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball is forthcoming from Columbia University Press in May. In a recent piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Woodbine reflects upon why he felt obliged to quit the Yale basketball team at the height of his game.


When I first joined Yale basketball I was naïve about the business of college athletics, where the primary motivation of university administrators and coaches is to profit from student-athletic labor. Part of my naïvete stemmed from the fact that I grew up in an impoverished black inner-city neighborhood, where coaches functioned as surrogate fathers and mothers, viewing the game as hallowed ground, within which we players could express our stories. Even though my inner city coaches were often less educated, they saw hoops as an extension of our lives, in which players’ deepest thoughts and everyday struggles played a significant role.

How ironic it was then to discover that at one of the greatest institutions of learning in the world, coaches built a tacit but impenetrable wall between athletics and the life of the mind, as if athletes checked their identities at the gymnasium door along with their jackets and hats. Yale coaches made no attempt to get to know me as a person beyond basketball, except when I decided to leave the team. There were no conversations regarding my academic life, no conversations about my personal background and no discussions about the cultural and social responsibilities that come with being a student-athlete at Yale.

Read the whole article on the Chronicle of Higher Education.

GDRS and BTI Students are Briefed on How to Successfully Craft an AAR Proposal

February 11th, 2016 in News

GDRS faculty member and resident AAR expert Prof. Kecia Ali held a workshop this past Wednesday for students interested in submitting a paper proposal for this year’s American Academy Religion annual conference. Students from BU’s Graduate Division of Religious Studies and School of Theology as well as Boston College’s School of Theology were briefed on how to best craft a proposal, choose an appropriate section or group to submit it to as well as how to create their own prearranged panel. Both the GDRS and the School of Theology have a strong tradition of sending graduate students to the annual AAR/SBL national conference and thanks to expert guidance from Prof. Ali we expect this tradition to continue indefinitely into the future.

Prof. David Decosimo Awarded 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise

January 20th, 2016 in News

David Decosimo

The GDRS is proud to announce that one of its newest core faculty members, David Decosimo, has been awarded the 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise for his book, Ethics as a Work of Charity: Thomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue (Stanford UP, 2014).

This award is given to ten scholars from around the world for the best first book or dissertation that touches on “God and Spirituality (broadly understood).” The competition is open to all academic fields and the work may engage or deal with any religious tradition(s), idea(s), communities, etc. The jury is comprised of an international, interdisciplinary jury of 23 distinguished scholars from 19 countries. As part of the prize, the University of Heidelberg will host Prof. Decosimo for a week-long conference in May where he will present material from my next book to a distinguished group of international scholars.

You can read more about this award winning book and Prof. Decosimo’s research interests on the School of Theology website.

Congratulations Prof. Decosimo! Keep up the good work!


GDRS Alumnus Appointed Sultan of Oman Fellow in Islamic Studies at Oxford University

July 16th, 2015 in Alumni News, News


Michael Feener, a GDRS Alumnus and an expert on Islamic jurisprudence and Indonesian culture, has recently been appointed as the Sultan of Oman Fellow in Islamic Studies at Oxford University. Dr. Feener studied with emeritus professor Merlin Swartz and wrote his dissertation on law reform in Indonesia, which became his first book. He currently teaches in the history department of the National University of Singapore. Congratulations and good luck Dr. Feener!

Two GDRS Students Receive Awards from the BU Center for the Humanities

May 20th, 2015 in News

Two GDRS PhD students were among the recipients of the the annual awards administered by the Boston University Center for the Humanities.  Lauren Kerby, whose research focuses on religious tourism in Washington, DC, was one of the students awarded the Edwin S. and Ruth M. White Prize.  Rebecca Esterson, whose research focuses on the early modern theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, was one of the recipients of the Helen G. Allen Humanities Award as well as the Angela J. and James J. Rallis Memorial Award .  Congratulations to Lauren and Rebecca on the well-deserved recognition of your academic achievements!

BUCH awards 2015 (1)


GDRS Celebrates its 2014-2015 Graduates

May 20th, 2015 in News

On May 15, 2015 the Graduate Division of Religious Studies held its annual graduation celebration.  Friends, family, students, faculty and staff gathered to toast the achievements of the new PhD and MA graduates in Religious Studies.  This year, Doctrates of Philosophy were awarded to Margaret Arnold, Theresa Cooney, Joel Daniels, Peter Hasbrouck, Giacomo Leoni, Yair Lior, Dorie Mansen, Derek Michaud, Kevin Taylor and Achmad Tohe.  Master’s Degrees were awarded to Dan Ansted, Ian Cooley, and Wendy Scott.  Congratulations to all of our graduates!

Kevin TaylorKevin Taylor, PhD (right), with is wife (left) and his advisor Nancy Ammerman (center).

Dorie MansenDorie Mansen, PhD (right), with her advisor Kathe Darr (left).

Yair LiorYair Lior, PhD (center) with his mother and father.

Achmad ToheAchmad Tohe, PhD (right) with his advisor Kecia Ali (second from right) and his wife and three daughters.

Wendy ScottWendy Scott, MA (second from left) with her mother (left), her fiance (rear) and her two sisters.

All GraduatesPhD recipients and faculty advisors.
(left to right)
First row: Margaret Arnold and Theresa Cooney
Second row: Dorie Mansen, Prof. Kathe Darr and Prof. Kecia Ali
Third row: Kevin Taylor and Achmad ToheForth row: Yair Lior, Prof. Michael Zank, Giacomo Leoni

GDRS PhD Candidate Leading Seasonal Tours of the King’s Chapel Crypt

October 27th, 2014 in News

14-8256-KINGCHAPELBU Today explored the King’s Chapel crypt, open for special tours during the Halloween season, with GDRS PhD Candidate Theresa Cooney.

“The building is ambient, the electricity flickers, there’s always rumbling from a train… This place has amazing energy,” Cooney says. “There’s over 300 years of history down here.”

Find out about the eery history of the crypt and how you can take the tour too here:

Alumni Earn Tenure and Tenure-Track Positions

September 17th, 2014 in Alumni News, News

Alumni Joe Laycock recently began a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the Philosophy Department at the University of Texas, San Marcos.  UT San Marcos currently only has an option for a religious studies minor and Joe is helping to build and generate interest in a new religious studies major. Joe is teaching courses on world religion, religion and film and charismatic religious figures.

Alumni Echol Nix was granted tenure at Furman University.  Prof. Nix was part of a US delegation the traveled to El Salvador this summer in order to participate in forums honoring the legacy of 6 Jesuit priests who were killed 25 years ago during the country’s bloody civil war.

We wish both of these dynamic alumni continued professional success!

GDRS Student new Assistant Editor of New Testament Abstracts Journal at Boston College

August 14th, 2014 in Alumni News, News

stroupGDRS student Christopher Stroup has been hired as the Assistant Editor of New Testament Abstracts (NTA), a journal published by Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Chris will contribute to the general editorial functions (selection, composition, editing, and publication of content) for the journal. He will be working with with the Editor of NTA to monitor all publications, books and journals, relevant to the modern discipline of New Testament studies,including related material from the Jewish and Hellenistic/ Greco-Roman period; the sub-disciplines of archeology, Rabbinic Judaism, the Dead Sea scrolls, and Gnosticism; and modern hermeneutical and literary, anthropological, social-scientific methods and theories.

Every year NTA abstracts at least 2,150 articles chosen from more than 500 periodicals in numerous languages (primarily English, German, and French) and offers book notices for approximately 850 recently published books.

After finishing his dissertation, Chris will have the opportunity to teach one course per semester at BC’s School of Theology and Ministry.