St. Louis may soon become the new mecca for the study of religion and politics in America. Recently the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University raised their profile significantly when it lured the husband and wife team of R. Marie Griffiths and Leigh Eric Schmidt away from Harvard Divinity School. Griffiths directs the Center and is the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. Schmidt is the Edward Mallinckrodt University Professor of Humanities. Under their leadership, the Center has a new website, a new web journal (Religion & Politics), a post-doctoral fellow, and what seems to be plenty of money to invite nationally known speakers to campus. (See our April 2012 post on the Danforth Center).
Yesterday the Center announced its next two faculty hires. They are Darren Dochuk and Mark Jordan. Readers of this blog will know the work of Dochuk. His book, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism has garnered a host of awards in the past year, including the prestigious John H. Dunning book prize.
Mark Jordan comes to the Danforth Center from Harvard, where he was the Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Professor at the Divinity School. (Poor Harvard Divinity School–all their best people are heading to St. Louis!).
Congrats to these hires. I am glad to see that some faculty members have chosen–at the pinnacle of their careers–to leave the hallowed halls of Harvard for the heartland. Perhaps this is another, albeit slightly different, example of the “Exiles from Eden” phenomenon.
I look forward to watching this exciting new center grow and prosper.