Religious Studies

  • Religious Studies faculty


Xochitl Alvizo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Xochitl Alvizo, Ph.D., Assistant ProfessorXockitl Alviso

Office: Santa Susana Hall 233


Xochitl Alvizo is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the area of Women and Religion and the Philosophy of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. She dedicates her work to bringing a feminist focus to theology and to the study of religion, including feminist and queer theologies, congregational studies, ecclesiology, and the emerging church. 

Dr. Alvizo is co-founder of Feminism and Religion (FAR) – an online project that brings together multiple feminist voices from around the world to dialogue about feminism in religion and at the intersection between scholarship, activism, and community. She is also co-founder of the Pub Church, Boston.  She has a chapter published in Feminism and Religion in the 21st Century: Technology, Dialogue, and Expanding Borders, edited by Gina Messina-Dysert and Rosemary Radford Ruether (Routledge, 2014), has an upcoming chapter in The Emerging Church: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, edited by April Stace Vega and Mike Clawson (Wipf & Stock, 2016), and is currently working on Women, Religion, Revolution, a project she is co-editing with Gina Messina-Dysert. Her blog writing can be found on FAR and can be reached on Twitter @XochitlAlvizo.


Ph.D., Practical Theology, Boston University School of Theology, 2015
M.Div., Boston University School of Theology, Summa Cum Laude, 2007
B.A., Religion, University of Southern California, East Asian Studies minor, 2001 

Research and Teaching Interests: Feminist Theology, Congregational Studies, Feminist Ecclesiology, and the Emerging Church. Her dissertation involved a feminist analysis of the developing ecclesiology of emerging church congregations.

Selected Publications:

2014 “Being Undone by the Other: Feminisms, Blogs, and Critique" in Feminism and Religion in the Twenty-First Century: Utilizing Technology to Expand Borders, eds. Gina Messina-Dysert and Rosemary Radford Ruether. (Routledge).

In press, Women, Religion, Revolution, co-editor with Gina Messina-Dysert (Feminist Studies in Religion Press), forthcoming spring 2016

In press, “Pyrotheology and Evangelical Theology” in Modern Believing – A Journal of Theological Liberalism, special issue on Pyrotheology (Liverpool University Press), forthcoming September 2016 issue

In progress, “A Feminist Analysis of the Emerging Church” in The Emerging Church: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, eds. Mike Clawson and April Stace Vega, forthcoming 2015

In progress, “Imago Dei” chapter in God volume of Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender, ed. Sîan Hawthorne (Macmillan), forthcoming fall 2016

In progress, “Introduction” for Sin Big: The Mary Daly Reader, eds. Jennifer Rycenga and Linda Barufaldi (NYU Press), forthcoming Fall 2016


American Academy of Religion; steering committee member for Practical Theology Group and The Emerging Church, Millennials, and Religion Seminar

National Women's Studies Association


Hispanic Theological Initiative Dissertation Scholar, 2014-2015
Ford Foundation Fellowships Honorable Mention, 2014




Amanda Baugh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Dr. BaughAmanda Baugh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Office: Santa Susana Hall 237
Phone: 818-677-4733

Amanda Baugh is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at California State University, Northridge, and Director of the Program in Civic and Community Engagement. She specializes in the study of religion in American culture, with attention to race, ethnicity, class, and environmental values. She earned her Ph.D. in American Religions from Northwestern University (2012).

Baugh’s first book, God and the Green Divide: Religious Environmentalism in Black and White (University of California Press, 2016), examines how assumptions about race, ethnicity, and class have shaped the “greening” of American religion. Her current research project examines how white and Latina/o Catholics understand environmental imperatives in the aftermath of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on the environment. 

Dr. Baugh is also the Program Director for the minor in Civic and Community Engagement.  The minor is designed for students who wish to apply what they learn at CSUN towards making positive changes in their communities and the world.  Students will combine their coursework and collaborations with community partners to become active members and leaders in the community.

Dr. Baugh’s teaching interests include the study of religion and ecology, religion and race in American culture, and religious studies theory. She especially enjoys teaching new freshmen and participates in CSUN’s Freshman Connections learning community.



God and the Green Divide: Religious Environmentalism in Black and White (Forthcoming with the University of California Press)

“‘Green is Where it’s At’: Cultivating Environmental Concern at an African American Church” (forthcoming in the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture)


  • Board of Directors, International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture
  • Religion and Cities group steering committee, American Academy of Religion


  • CSUN’s Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award (2013, 2014)
  • CSUN’s College of Humanities Faculty Fellowship (2013, 2015)
  • Judge Julian Beck Learning-Centered Instructional Project Grant (2014)
  • Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2011-2012)



Phyllis Herman, Ph.D., Professor

Phyllis Herman, Ph.D.Phyllis Herman, Ph.D., Professor

Office Hours: MW 12:30-1:50
Phone: 818-677-3925




Dr. Phyllis K. Herman is a professor of Religious Studies at CSUN. A native Californian, she attended UCLA and attained her Ph.D. in the History of Religion. Her areas of concentration are South Asian religious traditions and women and religion.

Research and Teaching Interests 

She is co-editor of the book The Constant and Changing Face of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions in Asia. She has contributed chapters to several notable books and articles to many peer-reviewed journals on women and religion, Hindu ideas of kingship, nationalist and feminist theories, goddesses, Islam in India and has concentrated especially on the roles of food in ancient and modern women’s rituals. Her latest publication is in the Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet and she is hoping to continue this new area of research into online worship in both India and in the South Asian Diaspora.


American Academy of Religion



Linda Lam-Easton, Ph.D., Professor

Linda Lam-Easto, Ph.D.Linda Lam-Easton, Ph.D., Professor

Office: Santa Susana Hall 227
Phone: 818-677-3396




Dr. Lam-Easton is a Professor at California State University, Northridge and has taught in the department for more than twenty-five years. Before that she taught in New York, Michigan, Chicago, and Hong Kong. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1980 and 1973.

She has held several administrative positions in her years at CSUN including Associate Dean, Development Officer, Educational Equity Coordinator, Faculty Mentoring Coordinator in the College of Humanities and Director of the University-wide program the Comprehensive Learning Experience.

Research and Teaching Interests

In the last several years she has offered courses in Introduction to Religious Studies, World Religions, Native American Religions, Religion and Art, and Religion & Literature.

Currently in addition to the above courses she has concentrated on 204 Religion, Logic and the Media. For the department’s juniors she offers 395 Theory & Method in the Study of Religions: “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

In her own areas of expertise, Asian Religions, courses in Buddhism, Asian Religious Texts and Asian Religious Traditions were offered. Her specific areas of interest are in the religions of China (particularly Taoism) and the theoretical and methodological aspects of religious studies.

For the majors, minors, and students interested in the department Dr. Lam-Easton holds a weekly Student Forum [Latin forum the place of public discussion; an assembly for the discussion of current matters and questions]. This serves as a chance for students to help each other in course concerns, for open advisement, graduate school advice [tests, application advice, peer collaboration etc.], career counseling [including visits from alumni], “conversations” with Faculty, and organizing class visitations for recruitment and other department events.


  • American Academy of Religion
  • Association for Asian Studies                                                             
  • American Oriental Society
  • Society for the Study of Chinese Religions                   
  • North American Association for the Study of Religion                                               
  • International Association for the History of Religions
  • Royal Asiatic Society-Hong Kong Branch



Kenneth Lee, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Kenneth Lee, Ph.D., Associate ProfessorKenneth Lee, Ph.D.

Office: Santa Susana Hall 230
Phone: 818-677-2357




Kenneth Doo Young Lee is the Associate Professor of Asian Religions in the Department of Religious Studies.  Born in South Korea and raised in Los Angeles, Dr. Lee joined the California State University, Northridge faculty in the fall of 2006 to teach courses in Asian religions, Buddhism, and introductory courses in religion.

He earned his A.B. in Psychology from Occidental College, M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Columbia University. His book, The Prince and the Monk: Shotoku Worship in Shinran's Buddhism, SUNY Press, traces the evolution of Shotoku worship in Japanese Buddhism.


Ph.D., Columbia University, 2001

M.Phil.,Columbia University, 1997

Research and Teaching Interests 

He has published in a number of books, including a chapter, "Kannon: The Goddess of Compassion in Japan" in The Constant Changing Faces of the Goddess Traditions in Asia and journals, such as his article, “Comparative Analysis of Shinran's shinjin and Calvin's Faith" in the Buddhist-Christian Studies journal.  He is currently working on a translation of the Contemplation Sutra (Jpn. Kanmuryōjukyō), which is a major Buddhist text in Shin Buddhism.

Dr. Lee is also on the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Korean History and serves as the Chair of the Buddhist Studies session for the American Academy of Religion, Western Region.

Selected Publications


The Prince and the Monk: Shōtoku Worship in Shinran’s Buddhism, State University of New York Press, 2007.

“Kannon: The Goddess of Compassion in Japan” in The Constant and Changing Faces of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions of Asia, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.

“The Most Venerable Sangwol: Reincarnation of Kwanseum in Korea,” International Conference of the Korean Buddhist Cheontae Order, Wongak Buddhist Research Institute, 2011.

Selected articles/reviews:

"Comparative Analysis of Shinran's shinjin and Calvin's Faith,” Buddhist-Christian Studies (Vol. 24, December 2004): 171-190.

“Heup Young Kim's Christ & the Tao,” Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (Bulletin 78, January 2007): 1-3.

“Monasticism Buddhist and Christian: The Korean Experience,” edited by Sunghae Kim and James W. Heising, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (Bulletin 82, January 2009).


American Academy of Religion



Jody Myers, Ph.D., Professor

Jody Myers, Ph.D.Jody Myers, Ph.D., Professor

Office: Santa Susana Hall 231
Phone: 818-677-3007




Dr. Jody Myers is Professor of Religious Studies and Coordinator of the Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program at California State University, Northridge.  She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and maintains a strong connection with her large, extended family there.  She received her B.A. at Brandeis University, her M.A. and Ph.D. in History at UCLA, and on-the-job training in Religious Studies when she joined CSUN’s Religious Studies Department in 1986.  She has written articles and books in the area of Jewish thought, history, and religious expression.  Dr. Myers' current research focuses on the Orthodox Jewish communities in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles, with particular focus on food practices. When not working, she is likely to be found gardening, cooking, on a study-trip in Poland, or dreaming about canoeing.


Ph.D., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1985.
M.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977.
B.A., cum laude, History, Brandeis University, 1975.

Research and Teaching Interests

Jewish culture and history, contemporary religious thought, American religious life, sustainability and nature.

Selected Publications


Kabbalah and the Spiritual Quest: The Kabbalah Centre in America (Praeger Publishers, 2007).

Seeking Zion: Modernity and Messianic Activism in the Writings of Zevi Hirsch Kalischer (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2003).

Selected Articles:

"Kabbalah Centre: Marketing and Meaning," for Controversial New Religion, Second edition. eds.  James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen, (Oxford University Press, 2014).

“Purity, Charity, Community: The Power of Kashrut in an Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood,” in Jewish Cultures and Identities:European vs. American Perspectives, Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Małgorzata Pakier, eds. (Peter Lang, in the series Warsaw Studies in Jewish History and Memory, 2012).

“Jewish Service-Learning Partnerships between Hillel and the Public University: A Case Study,” co-authored with Renée Cohen Goodwin, Journal of Jewish Communal Service, Vol. 87, (Winter/Spring 2012).

“Teaching Contemporary Israel through the Internet and Student Blogs” in Coping with Diversity: Language and Culture Education, eds. Hanna Komorowska and Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich (Academica, Warsaw, 2011).

“Kabbalah for the Gentiles: Diverse Souls and Universalism in Contemporary Kabbalah,” in Kabbalah and Spiritual Revival: Historical, Sociological and Cultural Perspectives, Boaz Huss, ed. (Ben-Gurion University Press, 2011).

“Phasing In: American Jewish Women’s Ritual Celebrations for the New Moon (Rosh Hodesh)”  in Women Remaking American Judaism, Riv-Ellen Prell, ed. (Wayne State University Press, 2007).

"The Myth of Matriarchy in Contemporary Jewish Women's Spiritual Writings," Jewish Social Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (Fall, 1997).

"The Secret of Jewish Femininity: Hiddenness, Power, and Physicality in the Theology of Orthodox Women in the Contemporary World," in Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition, ed. T.M. Rudavsky, (New York University Press, 1995).  Co-authored with Jane Rachel Litman.

"Messianism and Zionist Ideologies," in Studies in Contemporary Jewry, volume VII (Oxford University Press, for the Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1991).


  • American Academy of Religion
  • American Historical Association
  • Association for Jewish Studies
  • Western Jewish Studies Association (Executive Board Member)


  • Fulbright Specialist at Warsaw University of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2012.
  • Schusterman Israel Institute Seminar, Fellowship, Summer 2008.
  • Faculty Fellows Grant, reassigned time for research, 2006.
  • Research and Sponsored Projects grant, CSUN, reassigned time for research, 2005.
  • Koret Jewish Studies Publications Program, 1999, publications stipend.
  • Dean's Faculty Research Fund, reassigned time for research, 1995-99.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 1991.
  • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, academic year 1990-91, research fellowship.
  • Northridge Foundation Grant, spring, 1986 and 1989, reassigned time for research.



Mutombo Nkulu-N Sengha, Ph.D., Professor

Mutombo Nkulu-N SenghaMutombo Nkulu-N Sengha, Ph.D., Professor

Office: Santa Susana Hall 228
Phone: 818-677-3395

Bumumtu Institute Facebook:





Dr. Nkulu-N'Sengha is a Professor at California State University, Northridge and joined the Religious Studies Department in 2003. Dr. Nkulu-N'Sengha teaches courses in African Religions, American's Religious Diversity, and comparative religions.



Mustafa Ruzgar, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Mustafa Ruzgar, Ph.D.Mustafa Ruzgar, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Office: Santa Susana Hall 234
Phone: 818-677-7779




Dr. Mustafa Ruzgar is an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge. Born in Turkey, Dr. Ruzgar joined the department in 2009. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University in 2008.


Ph.D., Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Claremont Graduate University, CA, 2008.

M.A., Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Claremont Graduate University, CA, 2002.

B.A., Islamic Studies, Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey, 1997

Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Ruzgar’s research interests include Islamic thought, contemporary philosophy of religion and theology, process philosophy and theology, religious pluralism, and interfaith dialogue.

Selected Publications

“Islam and Deep Religious Pluralism” in Deep Religious Pluralism, edited by David Ray Griffin (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005).

“Islam and Process Theology” in Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought, vol. 1, edited by Michel Weber and Will Desmond (Frankfurt; Paris; Lancaster; New Brunswick: Ontos Verlag, 2008).

“God and the World: A Dynamic Relationship in the Qur’an” in Creative Transformation, Volume 20, Numbers 3-4, Summer/Fall 2011.

“An Analysis of the Gülen Hizmet Movement’s Interfaith Dialogue Activities” in The Gülen Hizmet Movement: Circumspect Activism in Faith-Based Reform, edited by Tamer Balci and Christopher L. Miller, (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).

“A Muslim Perspective: Theological Development and the Problem of Evil” in Process Thought and World Religions (tentative), edited by John B. Cobb, Jr. (forthcoming).


American Academy of Religion



Rick Talbott, Ph.D., Professor, Department Chair

Rick Talbott, Ph.D.Rick Talbott, Ph.D., Professor, Department Chair

Office: Santa Susana Hall 239
Phone: 818-677-2741



Dr. Rick Talbott is professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions.  He received his PhD from the History Department at UCLA where he also taught such courses as Introduction to the History of Religions,The Buddha and Jesus,Ritual in Modern Scholarship, and The Historical Background of Early Christianity. Dr. Talbott received his B.A. from CSUN and where he has been teaching courses for the Department for over 20 years.  He became a full-time member of the faculty in 2006.

Dr. Talbott teaches the following lower division courses: Introduction to Religious Studies,  and The Bible.  His upper division courses include:  The New Testament, The Teaching of Jesus, Pauline Letters, Gnosticism.

Research and Teaching Interests

Dr. Talbott’s current research interests focus on how social memory and oral culture help us understand the eventual creation of the New Testament Gospels.  He continues to research how Ancient Mediterranean religious rituals and rhetoric functioned as part of the exercise of power in political and economic systems within the early Jesus movement.

Dr. Talbott is currently working on a book contract for Cascade Publishers that deals with the political and economical systems in first century C.E. Rome that shaped poor and ethnically diverse neighborhoods where the earliest Christ communities lived. He challenges later Christianized interpretations that suggest Paul of Tarsus required Christ followers to obey the emperor and imperial powers. This work also addresses how colonial powers, past and present, have misused Paul of Tarsus to justify horrific acts of violence while valorizing US power and supremacy.

Selected Publications

"Trouble in the Hood: A Multidimensional Contextualization of Romans 13:1-7" in One in Christ Jesus: Essays on Early Christianity and ''All That Jazz,'' in Honor of S. Scott Bartchy by David Lertis Matson, (Editor), K.C. Richardson, (Series Editor). Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014.

Jesus, Paul, and Power: Rhetoric, Ritual, and Metaphor in Ancient Mediterranean Christianity. Cascade Books, 2010.

“Imagining the Mattehean Eunuch Community: Kyriarchy on the Chopping Block.”  Journal of Feminist Studies, 2006.

“Nazareth’s Rebellious Son, BTB, 2008; “Jesus, Paul, and Power: Rhetoric, Ritual, and Metaphor in Ancient Mediterranean Christianity,” Cascade Books, 2010.

Book review of Maurice Casey’s “Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian’s Account of His Life and Teaching,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 2012.


  • American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature.
  • Co-editor with Professor Amir Hussain on a series of books the History of Religions for Wipf and Stock Publishers.
  • Member of the editorial board for the Journal of The American Academy of Religion.



Claire Kravette, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Claire White

Claire Kravette, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Office: Santa Susana Hall 236
Phone: 818-677-5640



Dr. Kravette is an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge and joined the Religious Studies Department in 2012. She holds the first appointment in 'The Cognitive Science of Religion' in a Religious Studies Department in the United States. She previously worked in Queen's University, Belfast and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge teaching religion and psychology from an interdisciplinary perspective. 

Dr. Kravette earned her Ph.D. in Cognition and Culture in 2009 at Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland.

Research and Teaching Interests

Dr. Kravette adopts an interdisciplinary approach to religion, using the approaches of the evolutionary and cognitive sciences. Dr. Kravette also manages the 'Cognitive Science of Religion Student Lab Group'.

Selected Publications

White, C. (In press). The Cognitive Foundations of Reincarnation. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion.

White, C. (In press).Cross-cultural Similarities in Reasoning about Personal Continuity in Reincarnation: Evidence from South India. Religion, Brain and Behavior.

White, C. (In press). Establishing Personal Identity in Reincarnation: Minds and Bodies Reconsidered. The Journal of Cognition and Culture.

White, C. (In press). Grief in the Context of Bereavement. In Glass, D., & Glantz, K. (Eds.) Practical Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology.

White, C., Kelly, B., & Nichols, S. (In press). Remembering Past Lives: Intuitions about Memory and Personal Identity in Reincarnation. In Cruz, H. & Nichols, R. (Eds.) The Cognitive Science of Religion and its Philosophical Implications. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

 White, C., Marin, M. & Fessler, M.T.(In press). Not Just Dead Meat: An Evolutionary Account of Corpse Treatment in Mortuary Rituals. The Journal of Cognition and Culture.  

White, C., & Fessler, M.T.(2013). Evolutionizing Grief: Viewing Photographs of the Deceased Predicts the Misattribution of Ambiguous Stimuli by the Bereaved.  Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 1084-1100. 



An Yountae, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

An, YountaeAn Yountae, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Office: Santa Susana Hall 229
Phone: 818-677-3940


Dr. An specializes in Religions of the Americas with a particular focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. His research focuses on the construction of religion, race, and political identity in colonial and postcolonial Americas. Dr. An received his Ph.D. in Philosophical Studies of Religion at Drew University and he has previously taught in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Lebanon Valley College, PA.

Dr. An’s first book, The Decolonial Abyss (Fordham University Press, 2016) rethinks the relation between mysticism and politics by putting Neoplatonic mystical thought into conversation with continental philosophy and Afro-Caribbean philosophy. He is currently co-editing a book on Race, Coloniality, and Philosophy of Religion. He teaches courses on World Religions, Religion and Race, Religion and Migration, and Central American Religious Movements. 

In addition to teaching and research, Dr. An is a member of the steering committee of both World Christianities Group and Liberation Theologies Group at the American Academy of Religion. He is also on the Editorial Board of Horizontes Decoloniales.

Recent Publications


The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins (Fordham University Press, 2016)

In the Image of Man: Race, Coloniality, and Philosophy of Religion, Co-editor with Eleanor Craig (Work in Progress)

Book Chapters and Articles

“Slaves by Nature: Liberal Humanism and Necropolitical Theology,” Africana Religious Studies, Kenneth Ngwa, ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, Forthcoming)

“Secularism meets Coloniality: Mariategui’s Andean Political Theology,” Political Theology Vol 18. Issue 8. 2017.

“Breaking from Within: The Dialectic of Labor and the Death of God,” Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, Political Theology, edited by Melanie Johnson-DeBeaufre, Catherine Keller, and Elias Ortega Aponte (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015)

“From Exile to Cosmopolitics: Creolizing the Spiritual After Trauma,” Horizontes Decoloniales, Vol 1, No 1, 2015