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Top religion writer joins Newhouse faculty
Top religion writer joins Newhouse facultyJanuary 07, 2004Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
Gustav Niebuhr, considered one of the best religion reporters in the United States, has joined the faculty at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and The College of Arts and Sciences. It is a five-year appointment, and Niebuhr is expected to teach two courses in the Spring 2004 semester.
Niebuhr has covered religion for The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Before joining SU, he was a visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion. He is writing a book on religious pluralism.
“Gustav brings a contemporary knowledge of and interest in pluralistic religions in America,” says Richard Pilgrim, chairman of SU’s religion department. “He has life experience in the real world and brings that experience to the classroom.”
Newhouse Dean David Rubin and Pilgrim say Niebuhr’s role will include supporting scholarly research on religion and religion and media.
“His New York Times pedigree speaks very well for him,” Rubin says. “He has a gold-standard last name.” Niebuhr is the grandson of H. Richard Niebuhr and the great-nephew of Reinhold N. Niebuhr, both prominent 20th-century theologians.
Niebuhr’s appointment coincides with SU’s new Religion and Society Program, which allows students to major or minor in the field.
“It’s quite clear from recent news that religion is front and center on many topics,” says Rubin. “Religion is everywhere as a news story.”
“People are becoming aware that they have to take religion into account in nearly everything,” says James Watts, associate professor of religion and director of the Religion and Society Program. “SU’s new program an attempt to provide courses more attuned to the contemporary religious world and the ways in which religion and society interact.”
The interdisciplinary program is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Students majoring in religion and society are required to take at least four courses that focus on traditions and at least four on religion and society. The program includes more than 50 courses taught by 29 faculty members from eight departments.