This year, the San Diego State Alumni Association awarded professor of religious studies and chair of the department of classics and humanities Dr. Rebecca Moore for outstanding teaching, service and research.
“She is a superb administrator, having chaired both the department of religious studies and the department of classics and humanities in the College of Arts and Letters,” dean of the College of Arts and Letters Dr. Paul Wong said. “She has been instrumental in the recruitment of excellent faculty to the Department of religious studies.”
Since 1971, the Monty Awards have been awarded annually to faculty members from each of the seven colleges of SDSU for achievement and success. The dean’s office and staff nominated Moore for the award a few times prior to this year. She said the award is difficult to earn and she did not receive it the first time.
“It’s a great honor to receive one because there’s a lot of competition within the colleges and across the colleges for this recognition,” Moore said.
Moore left her job at the University of North Dakota to work for SDSU in 1999. In addition to working in a great location, she said there is a more diverse population of students and faculty at SDSU.
Prior to becoming a Monty awardee, she was awarded the Senate Distinguished Professor, Excellence in Teaching Award from the University Senate last year.
Moore is currently teaching two religious studies courses and said students are the most important part of her work. She teaches the courses on a fundamental level, including topics such as theology, sociology, anthropology, psychology and history.
The new religions course covers religions people fear. Religions and American institutions is a two-semester sequence course that covers preconceptions of religion. Moore said people have preconceptions of religions based on personal experiences.
“I’m very committed to teaching; for me that’s the most important part of my work at SDSU,” Moore said. “I like students, I like what I’m doing and I like talking about religious studies in a variety of aspects.”
Moore said she tries to be an outstanding teacher, to use new technology and to engage students in the classroom setting. She has involved high school and college students in her research.
Moore involves her students in the Metropolitan Area Pluralism Study as well.
MAPS is a website that provides the diversity in religions from San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico. Supported by the President’s Leadership Fund at SDSU, MAPS is able to locate different religions giving people the ability to find all religions nearby in the San Diego and Mexican border areas.
The website allows visitors to zoom into the map to the area they want to search. Then, people can choose the religion they’re interested in, and the website will provide a list of all churches in the area.
The MAPS website can also be used for students or groups working on demographic research.
Moore also manages a website called Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Based in California, the website emphasizes a group that strove to establish a religious utopia.
This website includes primary source information regarding new religions. There are also photographs, documents and transcripts available to the public.
In addition to leading two websites, Moore co-authored the book, “A Portable God: The Origin of Judaism and Christianity.” She is currently allocating research and information to develop a textbook about death, dying and the afterlife.
“She is a highly recognized scholar in the field of religious studies,” Wong said. “Her work on the origins of Judaism and Christianity, as well as on contemporary religious cults are often cited by other scholars.”
Wong said Moore is an outstanding teacher who is able to build students’ interests in courses offered in the department of religious studies.
Moore expressed admiration for the other Monty recipients and said she is honored to be among them this year.