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James  Cavendish

James Cavendish

James Cavendish
Associate Professor, Department Chair


Office: CPR 225
Phone: (813) 974 2633
Fax: (813) 974 6455


Personal Bio

What role do religious congregations play in maintaining or revitalizing communities in the vulnerable neighborhoods of our nation’s center cities? What role do they play in the lives of our nation’s newest immigrants? How can women, racial minorities, or gays and lesbians find a home in religious denominations perceived to be hostile toward their rights, sense of self, and collective identities? How can religious leaders mobilize their faithful to take a stand against discrimination, unjust social structures, or polarizing denominational policies? These are just a few of the questions I've explored in my research.

Most of my research to date focuses on the interplay between religious institutions, social movements, and social change. Because this research is guided as much by my own personal background and experiences as by my intellectual interests, the subject of many of my articles is the Catholic Church and the communities within that work for change. I've examined how Christian communities fought for human rights and democratic transitions in Latin America, how women's groups, racial minorities, and gays and lesbians struggle for full inclusion in the U.S. Catholic Church, and how religious leaders work for racial justice on behalf of the communities they represent. I served as the principal investigator of a comprehensive study, commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), of the U.S. Catholic Church's efforts to address racism, and most recently, I studied the influence of contextual factors on the rise of hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims after 9/11.

During my years at USF, I have supervised Master's theses on a variety of topics, including how the religiosity of African Americans influences community participation, the patterns of new church growth among Evangelicals in Central Florida, and the media construction of African-American males as violent criminals in local television news. I teach courses on the topics of religion, social inequalities, social movements, and research methods.

My interests in these areas of research and teaching intersect with the missions of a variety of programs on the USF campus, including the USF Office of Community Engagement & Partnerships and the USF Institute on Black Life. Over the last several years, I've served as the principal investigator of USF’s Campus Climate Surveys, university-wide surveys designed to measure the degree to which USF faculty and staff perceive our campus atmosphere to be diverse, comfortable, and inclusive.

Beyond USF and the local community, I'm involved in a variety of national associations that share my interests in religion, social inequality, and social movements. Among these are the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Religious Research Association. I’m also currently serving as the Executive Officer of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, an international scholarly association that seeks to advance research in the sociology of religion.


Ph.D.,University of Notre Dame, 1997

Graduate Students

Patrick Casey, Sean Currie, Rodrigo Serrao Santana de Jesus

Current Courses

RefCourseSecCourse TitleCRDayTimeLocation
93727SYO 4536001Inequalities & Social Justice
Crosslisted with Religious Studies (CRN 94608)

CPR 124
94608SYO 4536002Inequalities & Social Justice
Crosslisted with Sociology (CRN 93727)

CPR 124
89015SYA 6909003Independent Study

91594SYA 7980006Doctoral Dissertation

93435SYA 7988003Dissertation Proposal