Students sit and talk in lush green courtyard outside of university's Gothic-style buildings.

Welcome to a New Year of Sightings

As the Divinity School and the Marty Center begin a new academic year, Sightings welcomes new voices and new partnerships.

By Emily D. Crews|September 28, 2023

Dear Sightings Readers,

We write to welcome you to a new academic year at the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion, and to a new year of Sightings. For almost twenty-five years, Sightings has published essays that comment on the presence of religion in public life. This year we build on that longstanding tradition as we welcome new voices and new partnerships.

2023-2024 begins the tenure of the Divinity School’s newly appointed Dean, James T. Robinson, and the Marty Center’s new Executive Director, Emily D. Crews. We also welcome Curtis J. Evans, Associate Professor of American Religions and the History of Christianity, as Marty Center Faculty Co-Director. He joins our current Faculty Co-Director, Alireza Doostdar, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Anthropology of Religions.

This year we are delighted to feature a series titled “Smart Sightings,” a new partnership between the Marty Center and the University of Chicago Smart Museum of Art. In this series, authors will use the theories and methods of Religious Studies to reflect on objects on display in the Smart’s current exhibition, Calling on the Past: Selections from the Permanent Collection. Our “Smart Sightings” contributors are Emily D. Crews, Kris Culp, Matthew Harris, Karin Krause, Lauren Pond, Aneesah Veatch, and Erin Galgay Walsh.

We also welcome this year’s four contributing columnists: David Barr, Visiting Assistant Professor at Berry College; Russell Johnson, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies; Richard Rosengarten, Associate Professor of Religion and Literature; and William Schultz, Assistant Professor of Religions in America. We offer our thanks to William Schweiker, Professor of Religious Ethics, and Curtis Evans for serving as a columnists for 2022-2023. You can read Prof. Schweiker’s columns here and Prof. Evans’s column's here.

Sightings is a crucial part of the mission of the Marty Center and the Divinity School. As we embark on a new chapter, we thank you for your committed readership. We also invite you to contribute your own pieces, should the spirit (or the news!) move you. Please see our guidelines for more information or reach out to the Sightings editorial team at with your submissions.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to be in conversation with you and wish you a wonderful start to the new academic year.

Emily D. Crews, Executive Director of the Marty Center
Curtis Evans and Alireza Doostdar, Marty Center Faculty Co-Directors
Russell Johnson, Sightings Editor

Featured photograph by Charissa Johnson

Emily D. Crews

Emily D. Crews

Emily D. Crews is the Executive Director of the Marty Center. She oversees its operations and its relationship to its host institution, the University of Chicago Divinity School. In collaboration with its staff and faculty co-directors, she sets the research and programming agenda of the Marty Center. She also acts as its public representative and leads its partnerships with collaborators across the University, the city of Chicago, and beyond.

Emily joined the Marty Center as Assistant Director in 2022, after teaching at the University of Alabama and the University of Chicago. As Assistant Director she managed the research agenda of the Center, as well as its partnerships with media organizations. She also piloted the Center's inaugural Author Talks series, a collaboration with the Seminary Co-op Bookstore; led its Junior Fellows Program and Public Religion Residency Fellowships; and conceived and ran its capstone conference on Religion and Reproductive Politics.