About Us


The Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, housed at the University of Virginia, aims to help people think better about religion. Drawing on the expertise of scholars at U.Va and beyond, it supports public debates and research projects on topics of religion of great public significance, from all the major religious traditions of the world. In so doing, it honors Thomas Jefferson’s belief that well-informed, respectful, and daring discussions are crucial for the well-being of civil society. Undergraduates interested in religion are particularly supported, challenged, and mentored by the VCSR through its events and Undergraduate Fellows program, enabling them to achieve thoughtful and imaginative discussion of religion in their future professions.

The VCSR is affiliated with Department of Religious Studies, which is the largest religious studies department among public universities in the United States, and offers an undergraduate major as well as a full program of graduate studies across religious traditions.



Asher Biemann


Asher Biemann’s research focuses on modern Jewish thought and intellectual and cultural history. Rooted in Jewish and Continental philosophical traditions, his work frequently engages religious and aesthetic questions. Historically, his research concentrates on Jewish life in Central Europe, Italy, the Yishuv and modern Israel. In addition to the Martin Buber Werkausgabe, he is also involved in the edition of the works of Isaac Breuer and in collaborative projects on modern Jewish Orthodoxy and culture.


natasha_heller_religious_studies_01hr_daNatasha Heller


Natasha Heller studies Chinese Buddhism in the context of cultural and intellectual history. Her research includes both the pre-modern period (10th through 14th c.) and the contemporary era. Heller’s study of an eminent monk of the Yuan dynasty, Illusory Abiding: The Cultural Construction of the Chan Monk Zhongfeng Mingben, was published by Harvard University Asia Center in 2014.  Heller’s current book project concerns picture books published by Buddhist organizations in Taiwan, and how such children’s fiction not only teaches young people about the Buddhist tradition, but also addresses how to relate to clergy, family members, and society.




Asher Biemann | ab5j@virginia.edu
Natasha Heller | nheller@virginia.edu

VCSR Co-Directors
Department of Religious Studies
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400126
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126