Religion in the Americas at UNC & DukeThe University of North Carolina and Duke University cooperate closely in their scholarship of American religions. Graduate students take courses at both institutions, and ask both Duke and UNC faculty members to serve on examination and dissertation committees. Students and faculty members meet for joint colloquia, collaborate on research projects, and regularly make conference presentations together. A free bus service links the campuses every half hour. While maintaining different emphases, the two programs function as one. Learn more: About the Program Faculty Profiles Recent Dissertations Resources and Links

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University cooperate closely in their scholarship of American religions. Graduate students take courses at both institutions, and ask both Duke and UNC faculty members to serve on examination and dissertation committees. Students and faculty members meet for joint colloquia, collaborate on research projects, and regularly make conference presentations together. A free bus service links the campuses every half hour. While maintaining different emphases, the two programs function as one.

Learn more:

About the Program

Though storied rivals on the basketball court, Duke University and the University of North Carolina cooperate closely in the field of American Religion. Graduate students take courses at both institutions, and they ask both Duke and UNC faculty members to serve on examination and dissertation committees. Students and faculty members meet for joint colloquia, collaborate on research projects, and regularly make conference presentations together. A free bus service links the campuses every half hour. While maintaining different emphases, the two programs function as one.

This unusually tight collaboration offers students in American religion a wealth of resources. Core faculty members model historical, sociological, anthropological, and visual culture approaches. Their specializations range from Mormon history to mega-churches and Billy Graham to American Buddhism. The breadth and depth of scholarship at Duke and UNC is unmatched at any single peer institution.

For more information on the strengths of the Duke and UNC programs, as well as a fuller explanation of the ways in which they work together, read Thomas Tweed’s article from the Winter 2007 issue of Religion and American Culture.

To learn more about the individual programs’ admission and completion requirements, visit:

Duke Graduate Program in Religion – American Religion
Duke Department of Sociology
UNC Department of Religious Studies – Religion in the Americas

Faculty Profiles

Core Faculty

These professors direct dissertations in American religion:

Yaakov Ariel
Professor, UNC Department of Religious Studies
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1986
Specialization: contemporary Judaism; Protestant-Jewish relations

Mark Chaves
Professor of Sociology, Religion, and Divinity, Duke University
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1991
Specialization: sociology of religion; social organization of American religion

David Morgan
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1990
Specialization: history of religious visual and print culture

Todd Ramón Ochoa
Assistant Professor, UNC Department of Religious Studies
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2005
Specialization: Santería; anthropology of religion

Brendan Thornton
Assistant Professor, UNC Department of Religious Studies
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2011
Specialization: Pentecostalism; anthropology of Christianity; religion in the Caribbean

Grant Wacker
Professor, Duke Divinity School
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1979
Specialization: evangelicalism; missions; Protestant thought

Affiliated Faculty

These professors teach courses related to, and may serve on committees in, American religion:

Jason Bivins, North Carolina State University
Specialization: religion and politics since 1900

Fitzhugh Brundage, UNC Department of History
Specialization: American South since the Civil War

Jackson Carroll, Duke Divinity School (emeritus)
Specialization: sociology of religion

Curtis Freeman, Duke Divinity School
Specialization: Baptist studies

Philip F. Gura, UNC Department of English
Specialization: American literature and music

Reginald Hildebrand, UNC Department of African and AfroAmerican Studies
Specialization: African-American Methodism in U.S. history

Glenn Hinson, UNC Folklore Studies
Specialization: African American expressive culture; health and belief systems; ethnographic practice

Richard Jaffe, Duke Religion
Specialization: Buddhism in America

Lisa Keister, Duke Sociology
Specialization: religion and inequality

Wesley Kort, Duke Religion
Specialization: religion and culture; religion and literature

Michael Lienesch, UNC Department of Political Science
Specialization: politics and religion in the 20th-century United States

Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, UNC Department of Religious Studies (emerita)
Specialization: African American religions; Morman history and practice; religion in the Pacific World

Timothy Marr, UNC Curriculum in American Studies
Specialization: Islamic representations in American culture

Donald Mathews, UNC Department of History (emeritus)
Specialization: religion in U.S. social history; Southern religion

Theda Purdue, UNC Department of History and Curriculum in American Studies
Specialization: American Indian history and culture

Timothy Tyson, Duke Divinity School
Specialization: American Christianity and Southern culture

Lauren Winner, Duke Divinity School
Specialization: Christian spirituality; colonial America

Scholars in other departments or programs at both Duke and UNC—including African American Studies, Anthropology, English, Folklore, History, Latin American Studies, Political Science, Sociology, and Women’s Studies—regularly offer courses and participate on examination and dissertation committees in American religion.

Recent Dissertations

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill

“Strangers in a Strange Land: The Rise and Demise of the Early Latter-day Saint Japan Mission, 1901-24”
Reid Neilson, 2006

Duke University

“Almost Certainly Called: Images of Protestant Missionaries in American Culture, 1945-2000”
Sarah Johnson, 2007

“Defending Manhood: Gender, Social Order, and the Rise of the Christian Right in the South, 1965-1995”
Seth Dowland, 2007

“Varieties of Evangelical Womanhood: Southern Baptists, Gender, and American Culture”
Elizabeth Flowers, 2007

“Christianity Imprisoned: Religion and the Making of the Penitentiary, 1797-1860”
Jennifer Graber, 2006

“Migrating Faiths: A Social and Cultural History of Pentecostalism in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”
Daniel Ramirez, 2005

“Purifying the Poisoned Chalice: Grape Juice and Common Sense Realism in the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1860-1900”
Jennifer Woodruff Tait, 2005

“Seaborne Conversions, 1700-1800”
Stephen Berry, 2005

Resources and Links

The Southern Historical Collection, the North Carolina Collection, and the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC attract researchers from all parts of the nation. Resources at Duke include the Wesleyan collection at Duke and information gathered by the National Congregations Study (directed by Duke faculty member Mark Chaves).

Also in the area, the Church History Collection at Elon University, the Friends Historical Collection at Guilford College, and the Southern Baptist Historical Collection at Wake Forest University, are easily accessible.