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Religious Studies Department

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Philip “Boo” Riley is conducting research on spirituality among the unhoused in Santa Clara and actively involves students in his work, including visits to homeless encampments as well as conversations with unhoused persons and local nonprofit organizations working on homelessness.  

Elizabeth Drescher
and Jaime Wright, who direct the department’s Living Religion Collaborative, are assisted in their work by student researchers, who are also involved in presenting their research at conferences. They are currently focusing on a project entitled “Finding God in Googleville,” which is exploring local neighborhoods to better understand how formal and informal religious presences impact social and spatial experiences for residents who live in areas most impacted by urban development projects such as the Google campus in San Jose, CA, known locally as "Googleville." We ask how religious communities, faith-based and community service organizations, commercial religious sites, public religious sites, and even displays of domestic religion in people's homes, yards, and cars impact quality of life in practical ways in neighborhoods threatened by gentrification, displacement, employment instability, environmental degradation, and other ill effects of urban development.  

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