About the Association

Profiles of Newly Elected

2018 President-Elect, 2019 President, and 2020 Past-President

Paula Nesbitt, Ph.D., Harvard University 1990, has served on ASR’s Council (2005-08, 1996-99), and Chaired the Fichter Research Award Committee (2003-04, 1996-97) and Membership Committee (1998-2000, member 2012-14). She received the ASA Sociology of Religion Section’s first Distinguished Article Award (1997) and also has served on the section’s Council (1995-98), on various SSSR committees (1994-2017), on the RRA Board (2007-11), and as co-president, AAR’s Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Region (1995-96). Having taught sociology and women’s studies at the University of Denver, and sociology at the University of California, Berkeley (visiting associate professor, 2001-11), she has been at the Graduate Theological Union since 2011 where her research interests focus on cross-cultural religious interaction and conflict transformation. Her current book, Indaba! A way of listening and understanding across the Anglican Communion (forthcoming 2017) lays groundwork for research on interfaith relations. Her research on ordained religious leadership and occupational feminization (Feminization of the Clergy in America, 1997) continues through subsequent projects (2007-17).

Paula Nesbitt’s Vision Statement
ASR’s tradition of providing a dedicated forum for sharing research and cultivating collegial relationships (from senior scholars to students) across differing cultural and international contexts has sustained and furthered research vitality and expertise despite challenges that have faced the field. Sociology of Religion has increased esteem for scholarly excellence in the discipline. The annual meetings have become an ever more vital locus of cultivation and constructive critique for fresh research as well as revisiting familiar topics and frameworks. ASR’s member benefits of presenting and discussing new research, funding opportunities, and award recognition for distinguished contributions offer both challenging standards and a supportive scholarly ethos. As President, I will strive to promote international and cross-cultural scholarship as an invaluable part of our association, working with ASA to build collaboration through joint and special sessions at the annual meeting, and to extend opportunities for research, collaboration, and networking across scholarly interests and backgrounds.

Council Members Elected to Serve until 2020

Elisabeth Arweck, Ph.D., is a Principal Research Fellow in the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU), Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick, and editor of the Journal of Contemporary Religion. Her research focus revolves around young people, education (in the wider sense), and religion, with recent research having explored young people’s attitudes to religious diversity and the religious socialisation and nurture of young people. Elisabeth Arweck’s research combines education studies with the sociology of religions. Publications include a number of chapters, co-authored articles and (co-edited) books, including the recently edited volume Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity (Routledge 2017). Elisabeth Arweck has been a member of the American Sociological Association for a number of years, as she has been of other national and international learning societies, both within education and the sociology of religion. These include, among others, the International Seminar for Religious Education and Values (ISREV), the Sociology of Religion Study Group of the British Sociology Association (BSA), the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR), and the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR/SISR).  Elisabeth Arweck has a track record of serving on the committees and boards of the associations of which she is a member. For example, she is currently the membership admissions officer for ISREV and on the committee for the Best Article Award of the ISSR/SISR. She was the Convenor for the BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group, a member of the ISSR/SISR Council (being elected to serve two terms), and the internationalising officer for the SSSR.

Jualynne E. Dodson earned the PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is Professor of Sociology and African American & African Studies at Michigan State University since 2004. Jualynne was invited to serve as John Hannah Distinguished Professor before joining the Department of Sociology where she regularly teaches. She serves as founding director of the Award Winning African Atlantic Research Team, a mentoring collective that guides PhD students, including those completing dual degrees with the majority from U.S. cultural communities of color. The Association of Black Sociologists awarded Jualynne the 2016-2017 Life Time Achievement A. Wade Smith Award for distinguished teaching and Mentoring Service.  Dodson has published Engendering Church: Women, Power, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (2002), Sacred Spaces: Religious Traditions of Oriente Cuba (2008), and is writing a volume on Diasporic Dialogue: The Black Church in Cuba and Conference Proceedings of UNESCO Conference on Sharing Cultures, “Intangible Heritage” (2009); Innovative Methods in the Study of Religion (2014); The Changing World Religion Map (2014), and is editor and contributor to the forthcoming volume Religion, Culture and Spirituality in Africa and the African Diaspora, under contract with Routledge Press Studies in Religion.   Dodson has published in such academic journals as Journal of the Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa; OFO: Journal of Transatlantic Studies; La Cátedra de Filosofía e Historia del Seminario Evangélico de Teología y la Editorial Caminos del Centro of Cuba; Innovative Higher Education; and Sage Race Relations Abstracts.

Solange Lefebvre, Doctorate, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Professor in the Faculty of Théologie et de sciences des religions at the University of Montréal where she holds the Research Chair in Management of Cultural and Religious Diversity. Her areas of interest include religion in the public sphere, religion and politics, and laïcité and secularisation, youth and generations. Lefebvre’s recent publications include Cultures et spiritualités des jeunes [Cultures and Spirituality of Youth] (Bellarmin, 2008); the edited volumes: Religion in the Public Sphere: Canadian Case Studies (University of Toronto Press, 2014), Living with Diversity (International Journal of Theology. Concilium 2014/1), Le programme d’éthique et culture religieuse [Program of Ethics and Religious Culture] (PUL, 2012), Les religions sur la scène mondiale [Religions on the global scene] (PUL, 2010), Le Patrimoine religieux du Québec [Religious Heritage of Quebec] (PUL, 2010).  She has directed and collaborated on several funded research projects. She is part of the executive committee for a major Partnership project funded by SSHRC on religious diversity in Canada and around the world (2012-2017). As someone regularly consulted on religious matters, by governments, the media, as well as public and private organizations, Ms. Lefebvre was a member of the Committee of Experts in the context of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences (CCPARDC), chaired by Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor, from 2007-2008.

 Profiles of Winners of Past Elections

2017 President-Elect, 2018 President, and 2019 Past-President

Dan Olson, Ph.D., University of Chicago 1987, Professor of Sociology at Purdue University, has twice served on the ASR executive council (1997-2000 and 2008-2011), been chair of the ASA Section on Sociology of Religion and both secretary and president of RRA. He is coeditor of two books, the Role of Religion in Modern Societies, 2008, and the Secularization Debate, 2000, and has published articles in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, and the Review of Religious Research. His research interests focus on how the religious composition of geographic areas affects both religious variables (e.g., religious change/secularization, religious commitment of congregation members, religious switching) and, more recently, non-religious variables such as local and international variations in generalized trust, underage drinking, and, in near future work, change in mental health outcomes of people living in these same areas.

Dan Olson’s Vision Statement
Besides the journal, Sociology of Religion, and the awards and funding that ASR gives, many of the benefits that members receive derive from the quality of the annual meetings. The President has both the responsibility and the opportunity to shape the annual meeting program. While continuing to provide as many opportunities as possible for our colleagues, especially students, to present their work in regular sessions, I plan to work aggressively to expand the number of special sessions (both joint sessions with ASA and our own preplanned sessions) in which prominent scholars both in our subfield and on the edges of our subfield are invited to share their recent work and thinking. By publicizing these sessions in advance to our members and to the relevant ASA sections we can increase our meeting attendance and the value of the discussions, both formal and informal, that takes place at our meetings.

Council Members Elected to Serve until 2019

Ruth Braunstein is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut; a Public Discourse Project Faculty Fellow at UConn’s Humanities Institute; and a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. Her research explores the diverse ways in which citizens across the political spectrum participate in public life, and the complex role of religion in this process. Her research has been published in the American Sociological Review, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Qualitative Sociology, and Contexts. She is currently completing on a book based on a comparative ethnographic study of faith-based community organizing and Tea Party activism, entitled Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide; and co-editing a book about the role of religion in progressive politics in the U.S. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from New York University, and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

Gladys Ganiel is Research Fellow in the Senator George Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research interests include religion and conflict, the emerging church, religion in Ireland, evangelicalism in Northern Ireland, and charismatic Christianity in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Her book, co-authored with Gerardo Marti, The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity (OUP 2014) was a winner of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s Distinguished Book Award. She is author of Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland (OUP 2016), Evangelical Journeys (co-authored with Claire Mitchell, UCD Press 2011), Evangelicalism and Conflict in Northern Ireland (Palgrave 2008), and more than 30 articles and chapters. She co-edited Vol. 24, Religion in Times of Crisis (2014) in ASR’s ‘Religion and the Social Order’ series. She is Chair of the European Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion Research Network and a member of ASR’s International Liaison Committee.

Kevin McElmurry is an associate professor of sociology at Indiana University Northwest. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 2009. His research interests are centered on ritual practices and gender through the lens of embodiment, emotion, and sound. His previous ethnographic research has focused on the intersection of mass mediated cultural forms and gender in contemporary Protestant Evangelical ritual practices. His most recent publication reports a study of professional media production practices in a large “seeker-oriented” congregation. McElmurry’s current work examines the spiritual practices of young working-class men as these are constituted outside the context of formal religious organizations. Kevin has been an active member of ASR organizing sessions and offering papers for over 15 years. Twice he has served as chair of the McNamara Award committee. He served for three years as the editor of the newsletter of the ASA’s Religion Section, as well as both serving on and chairing the Section’s distinguished book award committee.

2016 President-Elect, 2017 President, and 2018 Past-President

Michael O. Emerson is the Allyn & Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology at Rice University.  He has authored several award-winning books on religion, co-authored a text on religion (Religion Matters: What Sociology Teaches Us about Religion in our World, Allyn & Bacon 2010) and co-edited Sociology of Religion: A Reader (2nd edition, Allyn & Bacon 2010).  He has also published several dozen articles on religion, and directs PALS, a national panel study of religion.   He currently serves on the ASR council (2013-2015), and has also been on the association’s Nominations and Publications Committees. He previously served as Chair of the Religion Section of the American Sociological Association. Since 2010 he has served as an Associate Editor of the Sociology of Religion and since 2009 on the Editorial Board of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Michael O. Emerson’s Vision Statement
ASR is on the rise, a growing, vibrant organization.  This reality exists due to the efforts of its past leadership, its executive officer, and its members.  To continue this trajectory, my vision is three-fold: (1) As scholars, access to funding is of great importance.  If elected I will appoint a committee to research what funding is available for religion scholars, and to propose how we can expand that pool.  We will ask how there can be more funding and what can we do as an organization to facilitate greater access for more of our members; (2) Our annual meeting is at the heart of our organization, the place where we gather, present, dialogue, and network.  I will put great care into working with a team to plan the best meeting possible, being sensitive to the desires and needs of our membership; and (3) I will work with the ASR team to showcase the strengths our organization and its journal, Sociology of Religion.

Council Members Elected to Serve until 2018

Mary Ellen Konieczny is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Faculty Fellow in the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago (2005), and holds an M. M. Div. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology (1985).  Her research interests revolve around culture, social theory, gender, family, and local cultures and public politics. Her book, The Spirit’s Tether: Family, Work, and Religion among American Catholics (Oxford University Press 2013), is an ethnographic study of religion, family, and moral polarization.  Her second book project addresses religion in the military, with the US Air Force Academy as the focal case.  Positing that the military is a microcosm of society despite its particularism, she explores how religion is intertwined with religious freedom issues, pluralism, and gender relations, examining how historical tensions between disestablishment and free exercise affect the present.

Lisa D. Pearce is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is also a Research Fellow at the Carolina Population Center.  Pearce studies the religious and spiritual lives of youth and their connections to educational and career aspirations as well as family attitudes and behaviors.  Her research is based in both the United States and Nepal and uses a mix of research methods.  Pearce’s publications have appeared in journals such as American Sociological Review and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.  She was a key member of The National Study of Youth and Religion’s (NSYR) research team, serving as Co-Principal Investigator from 2004-2008.  Using the NSYR data, Pearce and Melinda Lundquist Denton co-authored A Faith of Their Own:  Stability and Change in the Religiosity of America’s Adolescence (2011, Oxford University Press).  Pearce served on the ASA’s Religion Section Council from 2010-2013.

Jeremy Uecker (Ph.D., University of Texas–Austin) is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Baylor University. His research interests include religion and youth, religion and family, and religion and stratification. He is author of numerous journal articles as well as co-author of the book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Adults Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying (Oxford University Press, 2011). His current religion-related projects examine differences in the quality of the colleges students attend by their religious upbringing, the role of family formation in bringing young adults back to religious institutions, and the effects of joint religious activities on married couples’ sexual satisfaction. He served as Program Chair for the 2014 ASR meeting, was a member of the 2014 ASA Religion Section Student Paper Award Committee, and is on the editorial board of Sociology of Religion, the official journal of the ASR.

Executive Officer to Serve from August 22, 2016, until the conclusion of the Annual Meeting in August of 2020.

Rachel Kraus is Professor of Sociology and Affiliated Faculty with Women’s and Gender Studies at Ball State University. Rachel has been an active member of ASR for the past ten years. She is currently on the editorial board of Sociology of Religion. Previously, she served as Chair of the Robert McNamara Student Paper Award Committee (2011-12) and Program Chair (2007). Along with her involvement in ASR, Rachel has served as Vice-President (2014) and Secretary (2015-present) of the North Central Sociological Association and Chair of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s Outstanding Book Award Committee. Rachel has published several articles on spirituality and artistic leisure in journals including Sociology of Religion, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Implicit Religion. Her other work includes investigations of religion and deviance, religious views of sexuality, religious identity and migration, and the intersection of religion and politics.