The scholarship of CST students and alumni/ae continues to be recognized. Last month nearly 20 CST scholars presented and moderated panels at regional and international conferences.


CST doctoral student JP Paxton managed this year’s American Academy of Religion Western Region (AARWR) conference held in Berkley at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. This year’s theme was Religion and Kindness and ten CST students and alumni/ae participated: Phillip Butler, Jessica Chapman, Casey Crosbie, Shannon Frediani, John Freese, April Jackson, Girim Jung, Michael Reading, Monica Sanford, and Minhwan Song. Applying scholarship to the concept of kindness in relation to religion is the kind of work the world so desperately needs. Here are just a few of the titles these students/grads submitted: When Kindness Isn’t Enough; Chaplains in America: Right Livelihood for a Right of Kindness; and Dear Momma, the Black Madonna and Child: Black Women Raising Black Boys on Allah, Jesus, and Hip-Hop.

Doctoral student Michael Reading who presented on The Philanthropic Intensity of Amma the Hugging Saint used the theme of this conference to focus on the modern South Indian saint Mata Amritanandamayi to answer what set her apart in terms of philanthropic and humanitarian efficacy. He says, “On her annual global tours, it is estimated that to date she has given personalized ‘darshan’ (via hugging) to her worldwide devotees upwards of a remarkable 30 million times.” In addition to hugging, this saint is known for doing disaster relief work, building free schools and medical facilities, and setting forth women empowerment initiatives.

Of the conference itself, Michael said, “Overall the experience was great, and I’m saying that even as someone who does not much enjoy traveling! CST was well represented up there, and so it was awesome to see that. It is also worth mentioning that JP Paxton, in his position as conference manager, did a really outstanding job of making sure everything went smoothly. With his strong leadership there, the conference surely feels to be in good hands.”

Ph.D. student April Jackson who presented Dear Momma, the Black Madonna and Child: Black Women Raising Black Boys on Allah, Jesus, and Hip-Hop said, “It is extremely difficult showing up in an academic space where you aren’t expecting your research on anti-blackness and the hyperpathologization of Black youth to be challenged. But I believe that this is what my theological grounding and critical thinking skills are being refined for.”

AARWR is a peer-reviewed academic conference, and this year’s Program admitted approximately 185 papers in 24 academic units.


SASA Conference

Seven CST students presented papers at the 12th Annual Conference of South Asian Studies Association (SASA) recently held at Claremont McKenna College. The conference gathered participants from ten countries to present their research in various fields of South Asia with the theme, “South Asia Reimagined.”

CST Professor Deepak Shimkhada said, “The SASA conference is a high caliber international conference where seasoned scholars from around the world come together to present their research findings. CST should feel proud of these students’ accomplishments.” Congratulations to Princess O’Nika Auguste, Haydn Campmier, Sundus Jabar, Jamie Mills, Taylor Remington, Leslie Roth, and Fiona Angela Cruz Scott for presenting your scholarship at such a renowned conference. Some of the titles of their presentations include: 50 Shades of Yoga; Near Death Experiences in the Hindu Context; The Kama Sutra of Solomon; and The Energetic Bodies of Tomorrow.

Leslie Roth, who presented 50 Shades of Yoga, said of the experience, “Audience receptivity and common appreciation for the format and subjects made for a lovely conference.”

For a complete list of paper topics, presenters, and their institutional affiliation, please visit