Leading Scholars To Join Isr

September 1, 2009

This summer, Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR)--best known for its bi-annual Religion Survey--welcomed four new scholars to its staff.

"We have reached the point in social scientific studies of religion, where coming to Baylor is to become part of the best program in the world," Dr. Rodney Stark, co-director of ISR, said.

Dr. Philip Jenkins has been named a Distinguished Senior Fellow and will co-direct ISR's Initiative on Historical Studies of Religion. He also will offer seminars in Baylor's Department of History. The Economist magazine has called Jenkins "one of America's best scholars of religion." 

"I don't know any other university where you have so much exciting, cutting-edge research in religion as you have going on right now at ISR," Jenkins said. "Baylor is out to make history, and it's such an honor to be involved in all this."

Dr. Jeff Levin has accepted a distinguished chair at ISR, where he will serve as University Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health as well as Director of ISR's Program on Religion and Population Health. Levin will also serve as Professor of Medical Humanities. 

"Together with the other extraordinary scholars in the ISR, Levin makes Baylor the finest research university in religion and social science in the United States today," said Dr. Stephen Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

Dr. J. Gordon Melton, the leading authority on American religious bodies, has been named a Distinguished Senior Fellow at ISR.

Melton is famous for his Encyclopedia of American Religions, first published in 1979 and now in its eighth edition. This immense work provides the history, theology and current statistics for more than 2,300 independent American religious bodies.

Melton has been the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion since 1968. He will collaborate with Baylor scholars on a number of different research initiatives within ISR's historical and global studies of religion programs. 

Currently the director of the Center on Faith in Communities at the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, Dr. Amy L. Sherman will join ISR as a Senior Fellow. Sherman plays key leadership roles in the national Faith and Service Technical Education Network (FASTEN), where she seeks to uncover what's working for faith-based groups at the grassroots level and communicates lessons learned to policymakers and practitioners.

Sherman, a leading scholar on the role of faith-based organizations in society, will be collaborating on a number of different research initiatives within ISR's program on faith and service.