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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI historian chosen to participate in Young Scholars in American Religion program

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 3, 2005 -- Evelyn Sterne of Newport, an assistant professor of history at the University of Rhode Island, has been chosen to participate in the prestigious and competitive Young Scholars in American Religion Program.

The program is overseen by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis with support from the Lilly Endowment. The Center is a research and public outreach institute devoted to promoting the understanding of the relationship between religion and other features of American culture.

According to the Center, many leading academics studying North American religions are graduates of the Young Scholar program.

No doubt, the selection committee was impressed by Sterne’s 2003 book, Ballots and Bibles: Ethnic Politics and the Catholic Church in Providence. In the book, Sterne argues that the church, often regulated to the sidelines of history, actually served as a launching pad for political activism by its rank and file members in the early 20th century.

As a young scholar, Sterne will attend four seminars at the Center in Indianapolis during the next two years, her travel and lodging expenses covered by the fellowship. Top scholars in the field—John Corrigan of Florida State University and Judith Weisenfeld of Vassar College-will moderate the seminars. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for the young scholars to share feedback about their teaching and current research.

Sterne will share her experiences teaching a course she introduced this past fall at URI on the history of American religion. The course, which will be offered again in the fall 2006, explores the diversity of American religious traditions from the Colonial era to the present. “The course could be taught in a variety of ways,” the URI professor says. “This course reflects my interests: religion and immigration and the intersection of religion and politics are the major themes.”