Current Students

The seminar "Methods and Theories in THRS" was launched in the fall of 2012. It was designed to bring together the two disciplines of the department in a complementary manner, and stimulate original research projects. Following this page are six papers from the seminar on a diverse set of topics:


• Cremation and Catholicism
• Death rituals among Mexican Americans
• San Francisco's Thai Buddhist temple
• Veiling in Islam
• Education for young people within Jewish synagogues
• A comparison between Buddhist and Catholic liturgies

Each paper can be downloaded as PDF file. Please see the Table of Contents below.


Course Papers, Fall 2012

"Methods and Theories in Theology and Religious Studies"

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

 University of San Francisco

edited by 

John Nelson, Professor, THRS 

(paper citation guidelines follow the introduction



Table of Contents

Introduction to the Papers and Course

John Nelson

Dharma and Liturgy: A Comparative Theology of Ritual     (Paper)

Emmanuel Edward Te

A Burning Question for Catholics: Catholicism and Cremation (Paper)    

Dominic Scheuring

Mexican American Catholic Death Rituals: Helping the Departed Soul Transcend     (Paper)

Amanda Mitchell

Demystifying San Francisco: Thai Theravada Buddhism     (Paper)

Charlotte Greene

The Acclimatization of Religious Education to Modern Society     (Paper)

Katy Trenbeath

The Consequences of Unveiling Muslim Women     (Paper)

Monica Doblado



It has been a pleasure and honor to offer this course for majors in Theology and Religious Studies (THRS) for the first time, and to present here some of the quality research papers that concluded the class.  It was also a distinct challenge to find themes and topics that could address diverse student interests as well as represent the academic dynamics of the department in a balanced manner. 

Over the course of the semester, six THRS faculty members gave presentations that included an example of their published research, a discussion of methodologies informing their work, and some personal information about their backgrounds and career trajectories.  Together with the course readings, lectures, and student presentations, the class was able to navigate approaches to the study of religion that could draw upon the strengths of both theology and religious studies. 

Readers will note how several of the course papers presented here demonstrate theological concerns but do so by utilizing fieldwork and comparative methods usually associated with religious studies.  Likewise, papers that appear to be in the arena of religious studies were informed by a comparative theological approach, based on the work of Francis X. Clooney, S.J.  Our goal in the seminar was to construct a theoretical and methodological "tool kit," drawing from both religious studies and theology, in order to conduct research capable of addressing the complexities of religion as practiced today.

At the end of the semester, students had the option of revising their final papers for broader dissemination.  I appreciated the diligence, patience, and extra effort each contributor made to address editorial concerns.  I hope readers will agree that the result is six strikingly original and significant papers that are a testament to a successful experiment in how theology and religious studies can find common themes that advance the contemporary study of religion.


John Nelson

April 26, 2013


Citation format (Chicago style):

Author last name, first name, publication date, paper title, publisher, institutional affiliation, location.

Adams, Rachel. 2013. "Mindfulness Meditation in Secular Institutions." Course Paper for "Methods and Theories in Theology and Religious Studies," Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, Ca.