Upcoming events

Contesting Land Privatization in Morocco: inheritance, Religion, and Women's Activism in a Muslim Majority Nation

Thursday, October 3, 6 p.m. Fetzer Center

Please join us for a talk by Dr. Souad Eddouda, Associate Professor of English  at Ibn Tofail University. Moroccan women have stood at the vanguard of protests over communal land privatization processes over the last two decades. Given that land ownership and inheritance is governed by Islamic law, the current debate around land rights and inheritance law engages religious, cultural, and class-based perspectives. Rural women activists access religious and cultural identity to defend traditional patrilineal forms of ownership and inheritance against neoliberal privatization processes. This sometimes puts them in direct confrontations with neo-liberal reformers whose universal feminist values are situated outside local customary understandings of morality, gender and land. 

Souad Eddouada, currently a visiting Fulbright scholar at WMU, was recently awarded a multi-year grant from the Moroccan Ministry of Education to support research and writing for her book project Gender and Land Rights in Morocco. Dr. Eddouada’s work on gender, human rights, and Islamic law has been published internationally in journals and edited volumes. Her scholarship has been supported by several Fulbright grants, as well as grants and fellowships from the Society for Advanced Research (Princeton), University of California Davis, The Open Society Institute, and Lund University (Sweden).

This event is free and open to the public. Flier is attached with both PDF and JPEG versions. Please circulate widely. Complementary parking for the event available in lot 72-F. For overflow, please use lot 61. For more details, please contact Dr. Alisa Perkins: alisa.perkins@wmich.edu

Kalamazoo Islamic Center Campus and Community Visit

Tuesday, November 5, 4 p.m.

Please join WMU students, faculty, and staff, and Kalamazoo community members as we gather in front of Waldo library to walk to the nearby Kalamazoo Islamic Center for an educational event. Once there, we will meet Imam Hafiz Nauman, get a basic introduction to Islam and learn about the history, development and purpose of this mosque, which was founded by WMU students several decades ago. There will be snacks and a reception plus time for questions and answers with the imam.  You may also meet us at the mosque at 4:15 p.m. The event will last until 5:30 p.m.

Walk with us: Meet in front of Waldo Library, 4 p.m. It’s only a 10-minute walk from Waldo.

Or meet us there: at 4:15 p.m. Kalamazoo Islamic Center is located at 1520 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo. Parking is free.

This event is free and open to the public. Please invite friends, or to use this as an extra-credit opportunity for your class.

Sponsored by:

  • The Department of Comparative Religion
  • The Kalamazoo Islamic Center
  • The WMU Muslim Student Association


Please contact Dr. Alisa Perkins or Farhan Iqbal at farhan.iqbal@wmich.edu.


Welcome to Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Souad Eddouada

On behalf of the Department of Comparative Religion, please join our welcome reception for Fulbright Scholar Dr. Souad Eddouada, who will be visiting WMU during Fall 2019. Dr. Eddouada’s primary affiliation is with the Department of Comparative Religion, and she has secondary affiliations with Gender and Women’s Studies, Geography, Global and International Studies and Sociology.

The reception will take place Friday September 6, 3:30-5:00 p.m. 2022 Moore Hall. Refreshments will be served. Open to all. Please bring along any colleagues or students who may be interested in attending. For more information about this event, please contact Alisa Perkins alisa.perkins@wmich.edu

Dr. Souad Eddouada is Associate Professor of English at Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra, Morocco. She is an expert in Islam, gender, human rights, and land reform. Dr. Eddouada recently was awarded a multi-year grant from the Moroccan Ministry of Education, Ibn Khaldoun Social Science Program, to support research and writing for her book project: Gender and Land Rights in Morocco: Privatization and Women’s Protest in a Muslim-Majority Nation. Dr. Eddouada’s work on gender, human rights, and family law in Morocco has been published internationally in journals and edited volumes. Her scholarship has been supported by several Fulbright grants, as well as grants and fellowships from the Society for Advanced Research (Princeton), University of California Davis, the Open Society Institute, and Lund University (Sweden).

Daylight & Darkness - Unthinking Mortality

Check out this event that was co-developed by one of our Spirituality, Culture and Health MA students, Jennifer Townsend,  as part of her field experience course!

Dr. Siebert to retire

Some of you may have heard rumors already but Dr. Siebert has announced that, after 54 years of service to WMU, he will be retiring this August. His presence on campus and in the classroom will be greatly missed. We will do our best to coax him back for some guest lectures. In the meantime, one of his old students has created a YouTube channel of Dr. Siebert's video lectures. This is an amazing collection!

The Department will be hosting a scholarly conference in his honor on November 16; details to follow. For now, mark your calendars! Hope to see you there!

Dr. Siebert would also like to establish an endowment at WMU to carry on his important work in the Critical Theory of Religion. If you or someone you know would be interested in helping us achieve this goal, please contact Dr. Stephen Covell, Chair, Department of Comparative Religion.

Check out the College of Arts and Sciences article regarding Dr. Siebert!

Grant supports graduate students abroad

Two Department of Comparative Religion graduate students received support for their study abroad trip to Japan this summer from the Cornelius Loew Study Abroad Grant.  The grant is named for Dr. Cornelius Loew who came to WMU in 1956 to introduce the study of philosophy and religion. By 1958 he had founded the Department of Philosophy and Religion, which subsequently split in 1967 to become the two departments known today as Philosophy and the Department of Comparative Religion. He subsequently served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1964-77), Vice President of Academic Affairs (1977-79) and Distinguished University Professor (1980-88).  One student will be giving a presentation about his study abroad experience, the other is sharing her paper describing the sites she visited and the program.

The 2021 Japanese Religion and Culture Study Abroad Seminar

See the attached flyer for info regarding the 2021 Japanese Religion and Culture Study Abroad Seminar and/or contact Dr. Covell if you want to go or know someone who might be interested. We take students from other schools who want a unique experience in Japan. If you have friends or family studying elsewhere, bring them with you! This year we split the program into two halves to make more affordable options. The first half is the original two-week three-credit hour course that centers around the home base Zojoji in downtown Tokyo. The second part includes Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima.

4 + 1 Program with Kalamazoo College and Grand Valley state university

The Department of Comparative Religion is pleased to announce the creation of another 4+1 graduate program! We now partner with the Department of Religion at Grand Valley State University as well as the Department of Religion at Kalamazoo College. Under these programs, students majoring in religion at these schools will be able to transfer up to 12 credit hours of work towards their master's degree in comparative religion at Western Michigan University.

For questions, please contact the graduate advisor Dr. Cynthia Visscher.

Study religion at WMU

Do you want to know more about religion, the role and significance of religion in societies and the ways in which academics think about and analyze religion? Areas of study in Western Michigan University's Department of Comparative Religion provide knowledge and skills relevant to many careers and professions.

There are few things more important to study today than religion

Don't take our word for it, just listen to the US Secretary of State John Kerry: "I often say that if I headed back to college today, I would major in comparative religions rather than political science." This is a great read.

Scholarships available

Take advantage of these great opportunities for funding.