Greg Johnson



Professor, Department of Religious Studies


Growing up in Colorado, loving the mountains has always been second nature to me. In recent years, much of my research has taken place in Hawai‘i, where I learned to love the ocean. Now Santa Barbara finds me where my geographical passions meet! Likewise, the Capps Center is a place where my scholarly and community-oriented commitments come together. Issues concerning law, religion, and social justice have captured my intellectual attention for many years. Frustrated with the internal feedback loops that characterize segments of academic life, I have increasingly experimented with ways to make this work relevant beyond the academy. Foremost, this process has highlighted how rich community engagement can be, especially when conversations focus on charting paths toward the good in public life. Along the way, I have also been humbled by gaps between academia and the world “out there.” Bridging such divides will no doubt entail a learning curve. In this light, I am approaching my director’s role in the spirit of a student, as eager to learn as to teach.

I moved to UCSB and the Capps Center in 2020 from the University of Colorado, where I served as Interim Director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies and on the board of the Center of the American West. During this time, I also served on the American Academy of Religion’s board of directors and as program committee chair. Prior to my years at the University of Colorado, I taught at Franklin & Marshall College. I trained at the University of Chicago, where I received my PhD from the Divinity School in 2003. Since that time I have focused primarily on Indigenous traditions and law, with specific attention to repatriation, burial protections, and sacred land claims. My academic appointment at UCSB is with the Department of Religious Studies. You can find my faculty page here