Professor Information and Bio

Dr. Shivani Bothra 


Shivani BothraDr. Shivani Bothra is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at California State University, Long Beach. She recently was the Bhagwan Mahavira Prakrit Fellow for the Program of the International School for Jain Studies. Before this, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Rice University in Houston, USA. She has also served as a lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her doctorate from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Her focus is South Asian traditions, Jainism, and Nonviolence.

Her research explores the role of religious education for children as a means of preserving Jain values and culture for future generations. Dr. Bothra’s pedagogical interests include Jain yoga, non-violence, environment, foodways, and integration of the local Jain community into her pedagogy with field trips. Presently, she is engaged in a study that examines how lay Jains incorporate the principles of anekāntvāda (the doctrine of non-absolutism) and aparigraha (non-possessiveness) into their daily practices.

She also explores their involvement in nonviolent movements that transcend religious boundaries. Her most recent article was published in “Gandhi’s “Nonviolence: Convergence or Divergence of Jain Values.” in an edited volume titled, Gandhi’s Global Legacy. Terāpanth Prabodh: Devotion to Ācāryas in Śvetāmbara Terāpanth Tradition, in Contemplative Studies & Jainism. Her peer-reviewed publications include “Nonviolence: A Secular Paradigm for Sustainability,” “Self-Discipline as Integral to the Education System,” and a co-authored article “The Rise of Non-Veg: Meat and Egg Consumption and Production in Contemporary India.”

  • Phone: (562) 578-6125
  • Location:  MHB-613
  • Email: Shivani.bothra@csulb.edu

Spring 2024 Office Hours: 

Monday 10:00 am –11:00 am

Thursday 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm 


Dr. Kathryn Chew


Kathryn Chew

With a PhD in Classics from UCLA, Dr. Kathryn Chew has research interests in the ancient Greek and Latin novels, early Christian female martyr accounts, and fifth century eastern Roman imperial history. She has published on the development of the ancient novel and early Christian female martyr accounts, on the intersection of religion and politics in the life of Pulcheria, a fifth century imperial woman, and on other interesting topics, like how to recognize gods in mortal guise in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit literature. Dr. Chew joined the faculty at CSULB in 2003 after teaching at such institutions as the University of Virginia, Northwestern, Vassar, and Princeton. Her joint appointment in both Classics and Religious Studies gives her the best of both worlds: teaching the languages that are the foundation of Classical studies and participating in the lively intellectual environment of Religious Studies.

  • Phone: (562) 985-5810
  • Location: MHB-606 room – online, in cyberspace office
  • Zoom ID:
  • Email: kathryn.chew@csulb.edu

Spring 2024 Office Hours: 

Monday 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Wednesday and Thursday 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm and by appointment.


Dr. Gabriel Estrada


gabrielestradaDr. Gabriel S. Estrada specializes in Indigenous, Queer and Media Studies in Religion. Ze holds a PhD in Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies from the University of Arizona,Tucson. Ze joined the CSULB faculty in 2005. A Steering Committee member in the Indigenous Religious Traditions Group of American Academy of Religion, Dr. Estrada has published “Navajo Sci-Fi Film: Matriarchal Visual Sovereignty in Nanobah Becker’s The 6th World” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, “Cloud Atlas’ Queer Tiki Kitsch: Polynesia, Settler Colonialism, and Sci-Fi Film” in Journal of Religion and Film, and is currently working on a book manuscript Queer Indigenous Film. As a queer HIV+ scholar/activist and a Caxcan Nahua, Raramuri, Chiricahua Apache, and Chicana/o descendent, Dr. Estrada chairs the CSULB Committee on LGBTQ Campus climate and is a co-founder of the City of Angeles Two-Spirit Society (CATSS). 

  • Phone: (562) 985-2598
  • Location: MHB-601
  • Email: gabriel.estrada@csulb.edu  (Can usually respond to emails within 48 hours; and by appointment)
  • Class Time & Place: Online, Asynchronous

Spring 2024 Office Hours: 

Mondays     3:30 pm – 4:45 pm in person MHB-601

Wednesday 6:15 pm – 6:45 pm in person MHB-601

Also after class on Zoom or in HC-106 from 9:45pm-10:15pm

Dr. Sophia Pandya, Department Chair

Professor and Graduate Advisor

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Sophia Pandya is currently a full professor and department chair at California State University at Long Beach, in the Department of Religious Studies. She received her BA from UC Berkeley in Near Eastern Studies/Arabic, and her MA and PhD from UC Santa Barbara in Religious Studies. A Fulbright scholar, she specializes in women and Islam, and more broadly in contemporary movements within Islam. Dr. Pandya has authored a book (2012), Muslim Women and Islamic Resurgence: Religion, Education, and Identity Politics in Bahrain, on Bahraini women and the ways in which globalization and modern education impacted their religious activities. Having carried out research in Turkey on several occasions, she is also the co-editor of a second published volume (2012), The Gülen Hizmet Movement and its Transnational Activities: Case Studies on Charitable Activism. She is now finishing a manuscript on the Hizmet movement, alterity, and the challenges of altruism. Her interests have also included religious change in Yemen among both the younger and older generations of women, and the ways in which they negotiate conflicting religious discourses. One of her publications, “Religious Change among Yemeni Women: The New Popularity of ‘Amr Khaled,” looks at younger, educated Yemeni women and their preference of an Egyptian televangelist over their mothers’ religious practices. Another, titled “Religious Flexibilities of Older Yemeni Women in Sana’a,” examines older women and their navigation of religious change. Dr. Pandya is frequently invited to speak at the local, national, and international level.

Spring 2024 Office Hours:

Wednesday 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Thursdays 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

I also hold office hours by email, I endeavor to answer within 72 hours.



Dr. Carlos R. Piar


IMG_3881american rel divProfessor Piar obtained his Ph.D. in Religion/Social Ethics from the University of Southern California. He also holds a M.Div. and a Th.M. from Talbot Theological Seminary. He was appointed to the Department of Religious Studies in 1990. Prof. Piar has published a book titled Jesus and Liberation: A Critical Analysis of the Christology of Latin American Liberation Theology (1994). With Jon R. Stone, he has recently edited a primary-source reader, Readings in American Religious Diversity (2007). He has also written several articles on virtue ethics. He specializes in Latin American Religions, Modern Christian Thought, and Religious Ethics. 

Spring 2024 Office Hours:  

R/ST 100 sec 2

Lectures Zoom Link:  https://csulb.zoom.us/j/81845713041

Meeting ID:  818 4571 3041

Office Hours: Tuesday, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Office Hours Zoom Link:  https://csulb.zoom.us/j/81498390804


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Lectures Zoom Link:  https://csulb.zoom.us/j/84106702486

Meeting ID: 841 0670 2486

Office Hours: Tuesday, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Office Hours Zoom Link:  https://csulb.zoom.us/j/86437807190


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Lecture Zoom Link: https://csulb.zoom.us/j/89617785817

Meeting I.D.: 896 1778 5817

Office Hours: Monday, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Office Hours Zoom Link: https://csulb.zoom.us/j/84657758751


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Lecture Zoom Link:  https://csulb.zoom.us/j/88170258463

Meeting I.D. (if needed): 881 7025 8463

Office Hours:  Thursday, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Office Hours Zoom Link: https://csulb.zoom.us/j/85259960900



Dr. David Tabb Stewart


dts Professor Stewart received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley – a degree focusing on Hebrew Bible and Hittitology in their  Department of Near Eastern Studies, an M.A. in Middle East Studies-Hebrew from the University of Utah, and a B.S. in Finance from the University of Oregon. He joined the CSULB faculty in 2007. His special interests include biblical and ancient Near Eastern religion and law, the literary art of the Hebrew Bible, intertextuality, and ancient notions of disability, otherness, sex and gender. Dr. Stewart has taught at Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, San Francisco State University, and Southwestern University (Texas). Before his life as a professor, Stewart was involved in the management and financial guidance of a number of NGOs including ones that focused on homeless youth and college students.

 Spring 2024 Office Hours: Not teaching



Dr. Jon R. Stone


JRStone Online Course Photo 2015 copyAmRDProfessor Stone (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) specializes in Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion, and also teaches courses in American Religious History and the Sociology of Religion. He has taught at CSULB since 2004. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including On the Boundaries of American Evangelicalism, The Craft of Religious Studies, Expecting Armageddon, The Essential Max Müller, and contributor to The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism. His lexicon, Latin for the Illiterati (2nd edn, 2009), was named “1997 Outstanding Reference Source” by the American Library Association. With Carlos R. Piar, Professor Stone has recently revised Readings in American Religious Diversity (2007/2012), a primary-source reader now published in four separate volumes. He has previously taught at U.C. Santa Barbara, U.C. Berkeley, CSU Bakersfield, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Spring 2024 Office Hours:  

Wednesday 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm and by appointment