Russell Johnson is Assistant Director, Undergraduate Religious Studies Program and Core Sequence. He also received his PhD in Philosophy of Religions in 2019. His dissertation was on nonviolence and communication ethics in polarized societies and is currently working on publishing it as a book.
What do you enjoy about working as a staff member in the Divinity School?
I first came to the Divinity School because I wanted the freedom to study whatever I wanted to, and that open-ended quality is still one of my favorite things about the Swift Hall community. From guest lectures on food in Lebanese culture to classes on the prosperity gospel to conversations about ancient Indian art, the staff, students, and faculty create an atmosphere of curiosity about every question that fits under the umbrella of religious studies.
What do you enjoy about living in Hyde Park/Chicago?
What do you like to do outside of your work at the Divinity School?
I watch a lot of movies with my wife, Charissa, and our pet hedgehog, Simon. I also enjoy cooking and playing volleyball, and over the pandemic I got into tennis and video games. For several years, I have been part of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign with friends from the Divinity School.
Anything else you would like to share?
This winter, I’ll be teaching a course titled "bell hooks and Cornel West: Education for Resistance," and in the spring I’ll be teaching "Star Wars and Religion." I’m looking forward to introducing new undergraduate students to the kinds of conversations we have at the Divinity School.