Religion and media grant awarded to ASU

June 9, 2017

Arizona State University is the recipient of a grant funded by the Henry Luce Foundation to promote greater interaction between religion scholars and journalists who report and write about religion.

ASU is one of three universities to receive the grant support from the Luce/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Program in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs. The others are Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Download Full Image

At ASU, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will partner to develop faculty workshops, curricula and public events that will enable journalists and scholars of religion to interact and learn from each other.

“This program fosters collaborations between scholars and journalists around a critical issue — the complex role of religion in international affairs,” said John Paul Christy, director of public programs at ACLS. “This year’s supported projects not only promote greater public understanding of religion but also develop new interdisciplinary partnerships on university campuses.”

ASU’s project will focus on the vital role that civil society plays in democratic societies, said John Carlson, associate director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and associate professor of religious studies. “At a time when nationalist movements and anti-democratic trends are sweeping across the country and the world, the work that scholars, journalists, religious actors and others make to civil society and democratic culture is more important than ever,” he said.

“There have been significant attacks in recent years against the authority of scholars and journalists alike,” Carlson added. “These professions are indispensable to democracy, and they stand to benefit from working together and sharing critical insights.”

Carlson, along with Cronkite Senior Associate Dean Kristin Gilger and Anand Gopal, assistant research professor with the center, will lead the ASU effort. Gopal has covered Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan for multiple news outlets and is the author of “No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes,” a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and winner of the Ridenhour Prize for Journalism.

Gilger said the project addresses the gap between scholarly discourse about religion and mainstream understanding of religion and public life. “Journalism students and faculty will get the opportunity to develop a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the nuances of religious coverage, and scholars who work on issues involving religion will become better prepared to communicate with mainstream audiences,” she said.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Cronkite School also are partners on a three-year U.S. State Department grant to develop academic curricula and scholarship with faculty at the University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


ASU faculty member is a triple Sun Devil

June 9, 2017

Gina Woodall, a senior lecturer in the School of Politics and Global Studies, bleeds maroon and gold. She was an undergraduate student, a graduate student and now a lecturer at Arizona State University.

“I’m a Sun Devil three times over,” said Woodall. “Life events and other big decisions led me to a place I never left: ASU. I can say it’s like I’ve been at three different universities. From my undergraduate years, to graduate school, to the present, ASU has made enormous changes — and is still changing.”  Senior lecturer Gina Woodall Senior lecturer Gina Woodall in the School of Politics and Global Studies received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate degree from Arizona State University. Download Full Image

In 1999, Woodall graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English. She later received a master’s degree and doctorate in American politics with a minor in political theory. In 2007, Woodall joined ASU’s faculty as a lecturer and was later promoted to senior lecturer.

“Originally, I thought I wanted to go to law school. Plans changed when I realized I probably wouldn’t have been happy being a lawyer,” said Woodall. “I thought about what else I enjoyed doing, and that was learning more about the political world around me and learning more about people in general. This culminated in teaching higher education.”

Woodall teaches courses on political inquiry, government and politics, issues in American politics, women and politics, political statistics, media and politics, political socialization, and public opinion. She also created and implemented new curriculum for an inaugural School of Politics and Global Studies Early Start program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with Associate Professor Richard Herrera.  

“My philosophy of teaching and learning boils down to two things: one, respect and understand the student while acknowledging I’m also here to guide them into becoming responsible adults; and two, connect what they’re learning to the larger world around them,” said Woodall. “Why does it matter? How does it matter? How will knowing this information help them? Why is it important? Helping them ‘connect the dots’ is crucial.”

One of Woodall’s primary research interests is social media in the political science classroom. She’s working on a project with her colleague, Tara Lennon, about the use of Twitter and its effectiveness in terms of classroom and political engagement.

“Hopefully the research on Twitter will help educators decide how/when/what/whether to incorporate social media into political science, and other disciplines, classrooms,” she said.

Woodall has co-authored several books, chapters and journal articles with colleagues. In spring 2016, she won the School of Politics and Global Studies Experimental Lab contest to conduct focus groups for her research with Lennon. She was also named the “Professor of the Year” for the school in April 2014. 

“Liberal arts and sciences have never been more relevant than they are today,” said Woodall. “Thinking big, taking risks and knowing how to self-reflect and reflect on the world around us, all with a critical eye, are the intangible skills that the liberal arts and sciences impart on students every day.”

As students prepare for the global workforce, Woodall emphasizes the importance of effective writing, communication/verbal skills and critical/analytical thinking. She said the global, online world we live in requires one to be able to present ideas in a cogent and persuasive manner, speak authoritatively and confidently on a subject, and synthesize information (quantitative or qualitative) to determine its reliability, validity and authenticity.

“Please intern somewhere!” exclaimed Woodall. “Internships are critical to forming and establishing relationships and figuring out what you like and dislike in a potential career. Taking what you learn in the classroom to the ‘real world’ and imagining yourself working somewhere, or not, is an experience that is unmatched in the classroom. Not having that experience is detrimental to your professional livelihood. Intern and be in the know.”

Woodall also encourages alumni to keep in touch with professors and the school.

“We’re delighted when alumni come back,” she said. “We want you to come visit, tell us how you’re doing, help you make new connections and, of course, support your school. We’re extremely proud of our alumni and want our alumni to be proud of us.”

Amanda Stoneman

Copywriter, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences