Catholic Studies Programming at UCSB
The holder of the endowed Cordano Chair in Catholic Studies is expected to develop a comprehensive plan for advancing scholarship in Catholic Studies and serving the broader community. This plan has several components, including new opportunities for the study of Catholicism at the graduate and undergraduate levels; public lectures and conferences open to faculty, students, and the wider community; and the Catholic Studies website.
Catholic Studies at UCSB is located programmatically in the Department of Religious Studies. Catholic Studies at UCSB is based in the Department of Religious Studies. The study of Christian Traditions provides the foundation of Catholic Studies at UCSB.
The core faculty include Christine Thomas (early Christianity), Thomas Carlson (history of Christian thought), Ann Taves (Catholicism in the modern era; American Catholicism), and Rudy Busto (American Protestantism).
Speakers and Conferences – Most years, Catholic Studies at UCSB will sponsor a conference on a topic related to Catholic Studies, at least one speaker of interest to the wider community, and lectures by scholars in the field of Catholic Studies. All events will be open to the wider community. (See our forthcoming events page.)
The Catholic Studies Website is designed to introduce students, faculty, and community members to the resources and opportunities for studying Catholicism at UCSB and around the world. New resources for understanding various aspects of Catholicism, especially those developed by students or faculty here at UCSB, will be featured on this website.
The History of Catholic Studies at UCSB
The development of Catholic Studies at UCSB was initiated by members of the local Catholic community who wanted to see the study of Catholicism fully integrated into the academic life of a secular, public university.
Virgil Cordano, OFM, Chair in Catholic Studies – With the encouragement of the Department of Religious Studies, the UCSB administration, and the local bishop, a development committee raised funds to endow the Virgil Cordano, OFM, Chair in Catholic Studies. Many of the donors are citizens of Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities who have been touched personally by Father Virgil, a man whose presence, efforts, and action in the community have promoted the cause of ecumenism and the understanding of people of different faiths, religions, and cultures.
J.E. & Lillian Byrne Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies – In 2004, the J. E. and Lillian Byrne Tipton Foundation of Santa Ynez endowed a visiting professorship that enables the Department of Religious Studies to bring outstanding scholars and public figures to UCSB for a quarter to teach, present public lectures, and conduct research.
In July 2005, Ann Taves, a historian of modern Christianity and American religion, was appointed as the first Cordano Professor of Catholic Studies. The development of Catholic Studies was further enhanced by the appointment of Stefania Tutino in July 2006, a specialist in Catholicism in the early modern period, as Assistant Professor in the Departments of Religious Studies and History. After having been an integral part of Catholic Studies at UCSB for seven years, Tutino accepted a position in the Department of History at UCLA. In 2014, Elliot Wolfson joined the faculty as the holder of the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies. His interest in the comparative study of mysticism is reflected in new courses that include materials on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (See our course list.)
In the Press
Ann Taves and Stefania Tutino comment on Pope Francis’ appointment, UCSB Press Release, March 14, 2013.
“Distinguished Scholar is First Named to Cordano Chair in Catholic Studies at UC Santa Barbara”, UCSB Press Release, October 11, 2005.
“Catholic Studies Initiative Reaches Significant Milestone”, UCSB Press Release, January 23, 2004.
“Schwab Gives $1 Million for Catholic Studies at UCSB”, UCSB Press Release, September 21, 2001.