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Department of Religious Studies

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Lectures and Public Events

The department of religious studies brings distinguished speakers to the Columbia campus each year through the annual Joseph Cardinal Bernardin and Religious Studies lectures as well as through shared events and other guest speakers,  promoting events relevant to the study of human religious expression. All  of these provide opportunities to address relevant issues  and compeling ideas in a shared public forum. We encourage our students, faculty and the public to attend.

Upcoming Events

"Lost Childhood: The Story of the Birkenau Boys"

Sunday, February 25th at 7:00 pm
The Katie & Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center

Tuesday, February 27th at 7:00 pm
Harbison Theatre

The Columbia Holocaust Education Commission is proud to announce a fascinating Holocaust Education Program featuring a local biographer and a New York Emmy winning film maker. The public will have two opportunities to view the documentary, Lost Childhood: The Story of the Birkenau Boys, followed with a talk-back with the writer and co-producer of the film, Rich Newberg; and Sarah Spoto, writer and educator.

For full details see (PDF) >


"The Balkan Sephardim: Stories From a World Destroyed"

Sunday, February 18, 2018
The Nickelodeon Theater, 1607 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201

The event will include a screening of multimedia films and conversation with Edward Serotta, Director of Centropa, a Jewish historical institute based in Vienna. Doors open at 1:00 pm, program begins at 1:15, reception afterwards.

This public event is being held as part of a teachers’ seminar in Columbia, held in partnership with USC’s College of Education, the SC Council on the Social Studies, and the SC Council on the Social Studies.

For full details see (PDF) >


Bernardin Lecture

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin left a profound legacy of service, social concern, and education. In his work as priest, archbishop of Chicago, author and public servant, he addressed the most profound social and ethical issues of our times.

In honor of this Columbia, South Carolina native, former student of the University and distinguished leader in the Roman Catholic Church, the Department of Religious Studies at USC is working toward establishing the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Chair in Ethical, Moral and Religious Studies.

The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Lectures were inaugurated in 1999 and are offered annually by the USC department of Religious Studies.

Past lectures include:

  • 2016: Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, EdD, President of DePaul University, "The Challenge of a ‘Consistent Ethic’ in the 2016 Election Cycle"

  • 2015: Sr. Simmone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, “Bridge the Divides, Transform Politics:  A View From the Bus”

  • 2014: Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB Executive Director of Benetvision, "The Common Good: An Uncommon Search For Common Ground"

  • 2013: Dr. Massimo Faggioli Assistant Professor of History of Modern Christianity University of St. Thomas Department of Theology, "Bernardin's Common Ground Initiative: Can it Survive Current Political Cultures?"

  • 2012: The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, "Joseph Louis Bernardin: A Model for Civility in Public Discourse"

  • 2011: E. J. Dionne, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, and University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University, "Reweaving the Seamless Garment: Cardinal Bernardin's Living Legacy to American Public Life."


Religious Studies Lecture

The Religious Studies Lecture, inaugurated in 2012, is one of two annual lecture series hosted by the department. The Religious Studies Lecture presents a spectrum of academic discourse, bringing speakers to campus whose areas of research and scholarship broaden the scope of dialogue in the field.

Past lectures include:

  • 2016: Misha Tadd ,  Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advance Humanistic Studies of Peking University, I. "Demonic and Medical Possession in China" and II: Workshop on the Daodejing
  • 2015: Reza Shah-Kazemi, Research Fellow with the Department of Academic Research and Publications at The Institute of Ismaili Studies and Managing Editor of Encyclopaedia Islamica, I: “From Tolerance to Reverence: Spirituality and Universality in Islam” and II: "Muslim Reflections on the Crucifixion"
  • 2014: Omid Safi, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I: "Islam in America post- 9/11" and II: "Debates on Islamic Reform"
  • 2013: Evyatar Marienberg, Assistant Professor and E.J. and Sara Evans Fellow of Jewish History and Culture, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I: "And They Shall Become One Flesh: The History of Traditional Jewish Sexual Guidance" and II: "I voted! Canon Law and the Current Process of Electing a Pope"
  • 2012 — William V. Harris, William R. Shepherd Professor of History, Columbia University, "Greek and Roman Hallucinations Between Religion and Literature"