Collaborative Scholarship: The RIDAGA Humanities Studios

On September 15, 2013, four groups of scholars convened at UCHRI to launch an exciting new scholarly project, organized on a pioneering approach for interdisciplinary research, the “Humanities Studio.”  The Luce-Funded Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs Initiative (RIDAGA) initiative brings together a group of 22 UC faculty and graduate students, whose disciplinary backgrounds span religion, anthropology, feminist studies, history, politics, and law.

The studios – which bring together University of California scholars and professors with media colleagues and international scholars – worked at this first meeting of their Studio Groups to launch their  projects, refining research goals for the next two years of their work together. During the residency, the four studios also collaborated in a daylong media workshop entitled “Audiences Beyond the Academy.” Media colleagues from each of the studios participated in facilitating the workshop; and invited guest Jonathan VanAntwerpen of the Social Science Research Council discussed his experience with The Immanent Frame, the nationally-respected online scholarly forum on secularism, religion, and the public sphere.


Funded by a $500,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs is a 3-year initiative that supports scholarly collaboration in the form of “humanities studios,” which bring together University of California and international scholars (both faculty and graduate students), and media colleagues from key news and journalism organizations, to study some aspect of religious life in the modern world. Drawing inspiration from both the laboratory model in the hard sciences, and the studio model in the arts and architecture, a Humanities Studio is designed to encourage creativity, innovation, and collaborative research. Although each studio varies in its approach, the studio as a whole engages a single theme or problem through a diverse range of approaches while also supporting individual research.

The RIDAGA Humanities Studios are also tasked with engaging broader trans-disciplinary or public audiences in their research. Humanities Studios may develop digital archives, interactive online exhibits, documentary films or videos, oral history projects, community media projects, or curricular innovations. As part of the week’s activities, the studios engaged in a daylong seminar led by journalists and scholars, on reaching audiences beyond the academy.