The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles has announced grants totaling $1.25 million to expand its coverage of the changing landscape of American religious practice and theological thought.
Grants of $1 million from the Lilly Endowment and $250,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation will support the salary of a new editor and a freelance reporting budget for Religion Dispatches, an award-winning online magazine based at USC Annenberg. The funds from the Lilly Endowment also will support Remapping American Christianities, a project that examines the increasingly diverse expression of Christianity in the United States, while the Luce Foundation grant will support USC Annenberg's Innovating Coverage of Theology initiative, which explores how theological practices and discussions are changing in the twenty-first century.
Funds from both foundations will be used by the school to convene thought leaders, including religion scholars and clergy; to explore territory overlooked by other print and electronic publications; and to deliver stories via its multiuse audio, video, and podcast studios.
"Historically, theology has taken place in ivory towers," said Diane Winston, USC Annenberg's Knight Chair in Media and Religion. "Today, especially with access to online resources, conversations happen instantaneously and globally. People are constructing religious and spiritual meaning in new and different ways — and they're doing it not just in churches and academic settings but on TV shows, in classrooms, online, and at Starbucks."