Sandy Marshall Named First CSRCS Scholar

Sandy Marshall, assistant professor of geography, was selected as the 2020-22 CSRCS Scholar to support his development of community-based research and multimedia projects.

Sandy Marshall, assistant professor in the Department of History and Geography, has been named the 2020-22 Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society Scholar. He is the first Elon faculty member to be selected for this position.

During his term, Marshall will develop a statement of best practices for community-based research and learning in multifaith settings and pilot a storytelling project.

Sandy Marshall, assistant professor of geography

“Community-based learning with religious organizations presents opportunities for students as well as challenges for educators,” Marshall said. “These include reconciling the secular worldview of university education with the faith-based mission of community partners and avoiding exploitative partnerships.”

Marshall believes these standards will prove useful both for teaching and research conducted on or near campus, as well as research conducted abroad and for travel-embedded courses.

In addition, Marshall intends to develop “Elon Story Place,” a digital storytelling center on campus that can serve as a resource for students, faculty, community organizations and local schools interested in utilizing practices of deep listening and storytelling for research and action. Marshall will work to produce a series of digital stories highlighting the “lived religion” of members of the community recorded in these stories.

Marshall has also proposed a monthly podcast version of the CSRCS’s successful “Religion Trending” event series, in which Elon faculty, staff and/or special guests provide their “hot takes” on trending topics relating to religion. The CSRCS will archive these dialogues so that students their faculty can access them for courses.

Marshall comes to this position with strong credentials for the work he proposes. As a human geographer whose work examines the impact of conflict, division, and displacement on children and youth in the Middle East, religion has been a consistent crosscutting theme in his research. Participatory and community-based forms of knowledge production have been guiding ideals of his scholarly practice.

Marshall has worked with Palestinian refugee children and a community-based youth organization to curate photo exhibits and film festivals to display the creative outputs produced by the participants. He has worked with youth organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, and Lebanon to design digital storytelling projects with youth, and he developed a community-based learning project in the Tuscon, Arizona area in which students produced digital stories about the food traditions of refugees living in the region that became the basis of the Emmy-nominated documentary film, “Tastebud Memories.”

CSRCS Director, Brian Pennington, notes that Marshall has already made significant contributions to the work of the CSRCS. “Sandy has been an important voice on our Advisory Committee, and he has proven a gifted research mentor for our Multifaith Scholars and other students doing high-quality projects in which religion is a central focus,” Pennington said. “We are delighted he is joining the CSRCS in this new capacity.”

During a two-year appointment, CSRCS Scholars undertake activities and initiatives that promote their own professional development and assume leadership in some of the CSRCS’s ongoing initiatives.

For more information about the CSRCS Scholar position, contact Brian Pennington at