The Holstein Family and Community Chair in Religious Studies

The Holstein Family and Community Chair in Religious Studies was made possible by a generous donation to U.C. Riverside from Robert and Loretta Holstein in 1991, which was augmented by donations from family members, friends, and members of the Riverside community. Long-time Riverside residents, the Holsteins had and continue to have an abiding interest in religion and social justice that has always been deeply rooted in their extensive Roman Catholic background: Loretta served for a time as a Dominican sister, and Robert studied for ordination with the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. Robert spent a number of years organizing protests against the School of the Americas, and was jailed in 1997 for civil disobedience at Fort Benning. Already by the time the Holstein Chair was founded, the couple had been integral to the development of U.C. Riverside’s Newman Center, had funded an Urban League scholarship for African American students, and had played an instrumental role in organizing the Survive Food Bank (now known as Feeding America Riverside/San Bernardino Counties). While Robert passed away in 2003, Loretta continues her involvement in religiously-based social justice organizing to this day.

Professor Melissa M. Wilcox currently holds the Holstein Chair. In addition to supporting Professor Wilcox’s research, the Chair also supports a number of ongoing programs:

The Holstein Award provides research funding for graduate students and lecturers at UCR whose work or current project focuses on religion and social justice. A link to more information will be posted by the end of 2017, pending final approval of the call for applications.

The Holstein Conversations in Community are a biennial series of events, typically held on the last weekend in February of every even-numbered year, designed to bring community members, activists, artists, and academics together to discuss the connections between religion and specific social justice issues and to foster change and greater justice in these areas. A link to further information on the 2018 HCIC will be posted by November 2017, pending further development of conference plans.

The Holstein Dissertation Fellowship is an annual, non-stipendiary program that brings together a small cohort of doctoral candidates working in the area of queer and transgender studies in religion for networking, writing support, and mentoring at UCR and in the surrounding Southern California area. Fellows travel as a group to UCR on three separate weekends during the academic year; the fellowship pays all expenses for transportation, accommodations, and meals during each trip. Typical cohorts are composed of three to five Fellows, depending on available funding. A link to more information, and the call for proposals for the 2018-2019 inaugural cohort, will be posted by the end of 2017, pending final approval of the call.

The annual Holstein Graduate Prize awards a certificate of recognition and $250 to the author of the best paper or dissertation chapter written by a graduate student at UCR in the previous year on a topic related to religion and social justice. A link to more information, including the 2017-2018 call for submissions, will be posted by the end of 2017, pending final approval of the call.

The Holstein Conference on Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion is a biennial academic conference at UCR that typically takes place on the last weekend in February of every odd (queer!) year. Watch for a link to the inaugural 2019 conference some time in the first half of 2018.

The annual Holstein Undergraduate Prize awards a certificate of recognition and $250 to an undergraduate major in Religious Studies at UCR who is engaged in academic, artistic, or community work in social justice. For a list of past winners, please click here.