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Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford value diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral not only to the culture of care that we seek to foster among students, staff, and faculty, but also to our mission as scholars and students of religion.

We believe that the work of Religious Studies should be to build knowledge and understanding of religion in all cultures and in all periods of human history up to the present within a framework that values diversity. As a department, we must also continually work to build and value diversity among our faculty, staff, and student body, so as to achieve gender equity, labor parity, and demographic representation that reflects the broader campus and society in which we work and live.

Even as we take this to be our work, we recognize the inequities active in the very constitution of our discipline. We acknowledge that historically, the study of religion has contributed to the objectification and racialization of different individuals and communities rather than seeing them as respected knowledge-producers, theorists and full human beings. We recognize the value of collaborative rather than extractive methodologies and theories that engage rather than silence.

In this moment, at the height of COVID and nation-wide BLM protests, we feel it is important to acknowledge that religion and the study of religion continue to perpetuate, in particular, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian racism among all communities. We recognize, too, that the very buildings in which we work sit upon the ancestral lands of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, and belong to a university whose original endowment was in part generated by the labor of Chinese railroad workers. We recognize that racism and other institutional inequities continue to have a disproportionate and deleterious impact on the lives, well-being, and health of people of color, LGBTQIA people, women, and other vulnerable populations at Stanford, in the USA, and around the world.

In light of these inequities, we commit to fostering a culture and curriculum of inclusion and care in our department and in the broader campus community. We will continually work to make space in our teaching and research for a variety of methods, techniques, and disciplinary perspectives in the study of religion, and for a wide range of perspectives and positions within religious traditions. We believe that Religious Studies can help students and scholars to understand the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of colonialism, anti-Blackness, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, sex- and gender-based discrimination, and the exoticization and appropriation of the religious practices of people of color, as well as all other forms of marginalization and disempowerment. We commit to also include in our pedagogy and scholarship historical and contemporary communities that have drawn from religious practices and precepts to imagine other ways of being in cultures that have marginalized and disempowered them.

We will continually work to ensure that our department is an inclusive and welcoming space for all faculty, staff, students, and guests. To that end, we offer here a range of resources and profiles of the work our students and faculty are doing to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in their research and beyond.