The Center for Media, Religion and Culture is one of the very few institutions worldwide dedicated to building knowledge and expertise in the emerging field of media and religion studies. It draws on resources from a broad range of disciplines and seeks to engage scholars, professionals, students and interested publics to build knowledge about the ways that religion and media are interacting and evolving in contemporary global cultures.
Why the CMRC?
Religion is a dominant force in the 21st century. It is no longer only a private matter or only about institutions, doctrines and histories. It is changing in ways that have implications for politics, the economy and for social and cultural life, nationally, regionally and globally. The understanding of religion among various publics has lagged behind its development. However, there is increasing attention being paid by central voices in education, government, scholarship, religious institutions and the public sphere.
All contemporary institutional, social and cultural trends take place in a media context. They shape–and are in turn shaped by–media. At the same time, religions and spiritualities have always been mediated and many use modern “legacy” and “digital” media to pursue their interests and truth claims. While the intertwinement of media and religion is relevant to understand contemporary social and political dynamics, there is a lack of knowledge about it. CMRC aims to address how media and religion are now being transformed by changes in each and by their interactions with each other.
The center’s students and faculty are engaged in groundbreaking work at the intersection of media and religion. Their research has received recognition within a wide variety of disciplines from media studies, journalism and religious studies to anthropology, art history and business.
Studies focus on the practices and experiences which define religion and spirituality today. Researchers explore such issues as how religions and spiritualities are represented by media, how they interact with religion in the political sphere, how they are used by both formal and informal groups and movements, and their implications for religious institutions and authority.
The center connects scholars, educators and leaders in media, religion, culture and politics. The development of such networks grounds scholarly work in real-world expertise and brings the results of research to bear in settings where it can be most useful. Teaching, as well as conferences and seminars, are at the center of these efforts, attracting leaders in research and practice as well as interested publics.
The center’s teaching mission extends from its ongoing research seminar and its involvement in a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses to its broader influence in the growing field. It supports educators and their students through published resources, presentations, lectures and teaching collaborations domestically and internationally, and regularly welcomes visiting scholars who wish to engage in its discourses and research efforts.
The center is regularly involved in domestic and international conferences. International conferences on religion journalism, fundamentalisms and the media, spiritualties and social Change, Islam and the media, digital religion, and global religion have been successful and notable occasions for scholarly and professional dialog and interaction. A conference on media, religion and culture is in the planning stages. The center has also organized seminars and sessions at academic and professional meetings and has acted as the secretariat for the biennial International Conferences on Media, Religion and Culture, held by the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture.
Through teaching and conferences the center enhances dialogue between scholars, professionals and the public. This is a primary way CMRC fulfills its goal: creating new knowledge and awareness of the ways religions and spiritualities are being transformed through modern media.
The Center is globally recognized for its scholarship, teaching, and public-scholarly outreach and as a result of these efforts, Center Fellows emerge with a range of skills and interests. Here are a sample of the testimonials current and past Fellows have written about their experiences with the Center:
“The work, conversations, and research that I have participated in through the CMRC have been invaluable in helping me to develop both academically and professionally. Our weekly conversations helped to give me a thorough understanding of the work that is being done at the intersection of media, religion, and culture, the theory that is being formed and utilized around academic projects that focus on that intersection, and the future possibilities for academics and media and religion research, in general. The CMRC also put me in contact with scholars and public intellectuals whose work and interests align with my own. The Center really helped me to expand my thinking, and I wish that I had the ability to continue attending and listening to, and engaging in the thought-provoking discussions that take place there.” – Ryan Bartlett, current Research Fellow
“I did my Ph.D. in Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and I was a fellow at the Center for Media, Religion, and Culture from 2012 to 2016. The CMRC was the main reason I chose to do my Ph.D. at CU Boulder, as I wanted to focus my research on religion and media. Being a fellow at the CMRC helped completing my background in Religious Studies with a focus on media theories, and exploring new aspects of religion and digital spaces. The CMRC weekly meetings, as well as the conferences it organizes every two years, were intellectually challenging and gave me new ideas for my research. Before completing my Ph.D., I was hired as postdoctoral fellow in religion and media at the Center for Religious Studies (Ceres) at Ruhr University, in Germany. The fact that I did my Ph.D. at the CMRC was certainly one of the reasons why I got the job: members of Ceres already knew the CMRC because of its conferences and had a very positive opinion of its work.” – Giulia Evolvi, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Bochum, Germany
“My intellectual journey cannot be explained without mentioning the scholars, readings, and conversations I encountered at the Center for Media, Religion, and Culture. Invaluable encounters with colleagues and readings at the Center shaped my perspectives on and research interests in media and religion from the beginning of my doctoral course. Weekly meetings at the Center provoked me to contemplate the significance of digital mediation and religion to the contemporary formation of postcolonial modernity in Korea and led to my dissertation on religion, digital media, and modern imaginaries in South Korea. I feel very blessed given all the opportunities, I acquired thanks to the Center, including participating in a variety of conferences, research, and book projects." – Seung-Soo Kim, Ph.D., Lecturer, Royal University of Bangkok, Thailand
"The importance of the Center and my visit there was that it allowed for my ideas to form through engagement with a diverse group of scholars working in related areas. It allowed me to work with you, Stewart, reflecting on the way television impacts individuals with regards to "religious" material, as well as how Islam is engaged with by the media and Muslims use Media through Nabil's work. At the same time all the other fellows of the Center helped shape my ideas on the relationship between religion, media, and society through discussions held over a sustained period of time. That allowed me to fully reflect on my research methods, data, and theories, which ultimately played a significant role in the formation of my PhD." – Laurens DeRooij, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Cape Town, South Africa
"It was, first of all, an academic blessing for me to visit The Center for Media, Religion and Culture, University of Colorado Boulder. The Center is a hub for scholars interested to enrich and contextualize their media scholarship with a larger religious and cultural phenomenon across the globe. The Center, with its excellent human resources, is a valuable think tank where media critical thoughts are produced. Those lines of testimonies about The Center, are based on what I experienced during my visit to develop my Ph.D dissertation. I do thank The Center and its distinguished people, for their insightful academic guidance and supervisory to my dissertation and to my scholarly life." – Fazlul Rahman, Ph.D., University of Gadja Mahda, Yogjakarta, Indonesia
"I was a visiting research scholar at the Center for Media, Religion, and Culture in September 2017. The amazing experience of working at the Center offered me opportunities to collaborate and share ideas with talented people from all over the world. I have wonderful memories of my time at the Center. I was delighted to attend there lectures and seminars as well as meetings and discussions with the other fellows and visiting scholars. I also was given the opportunity to present my research on advertising and religion during the Center's weekly seminar. My presentation was attended by a great number of research fellows, including professors from the departments of Religious Studies and Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, who asked interesting questions and offered me invaluable suggestions." – Carlo Nardella, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dept. of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, Italy