The Graduate Group in the Study of Religion has received final approval from the Office of the President to establish a M.A. / Ph.D. program. It will admit its first students for the 2013-14 academic year.
“I am delighted that this new graduate group has been approved,” said Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies. “The graduate group in the Study of Religion emerged, along with Performance Studies, as the leading candidates in our divisional planning process, based both on the constellation of faculty at UC Davis and clear evidence of student demand.”
The idea of launching a graduate program in the study of religion received a significant boost in 2007, when the religious studies program hired four new faculty members (roughly doubling its size at that time). Professors Mark Elmore and Catherine Chin spearheaded the initiative, with additional assistance and resources from faculty and staff across the university. The initial planning was funded through a planning grant provided by the dean’s office.
“We really wanted the program to fit the needs of students and faculty members,” said Flagg Miller, an associate professor in religious studies. Faculty members spent significant time evaluating the graduate programs in religion offered at other UC campuses, namely UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara. “We invited guest speakers from those programs to come to UC Davis, review our plans and offer their advice and critique,” said Miller.
The proposal was first vetted by senate committees on the UC Davis campus, and approved by the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors. It then moved to system-wide review. By the end of the spring quarter 2011, the Coordinating Committee of Graduate Affairs had completed its review and the graduate group received final approval.
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