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 UC 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 UC 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. Applications for the award are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Holstein Conversation in Community is a biennial event, 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. The 2018 HCiC, entitled Missing Persons, will take place February 24-25; proposals for presentations, exhibits, and workshops are due on November 1, 2017.

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. Applications to join the inaugural cohort in 2018-2019 are due on April 2, 2018.

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. The deadline for submissions for the 2017-2018 academic year is May 1, 2018.

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. The inaugural conference will take place February 22-24, 2019. Watch for more information at this site 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.