WORLD RELIGIONS AND SPIRITUALITY PROJECT (WRSP)
What has become WRSP originated with the New Religious Movements Homepage Project, which was founded in 1995 by Professor Jeffrey K. Hadden at the University of Virginia as part of an undergraduate course on New Religious Movements (NRMs). Student researchers compiled profiles of a broad range of NRMs. Given the paucity of information online at that time, the Religious Movements Homepage rapidly grew into one of the largest academic sites of its kind in the world. Professor David Bromley consulted with Professor Hadden regularly on the project during this period. Following Professor Hadden’s untimely death in 2003, Professor Douglas E. Cowan, Renison College of the University of Waterloo, managed the project website for the next seven years to assure its continuation. Ultimately project data were archived through the University of Virginia Library.
In 2010, Professor David G. Bromley initiated the World Religions and Spirituality Project (WRSP) at Virginia Commonwealth University. The new project retained the goal of creating profiles of alternative and emerging religious and spiritual groups. Profile content on WRSP is provided by religion scholars of record around the world. WRSP has developed into an international scholarly consortium that collaboratively produces an online, academic reference resource. Visitation to the project site has continued to increase, and currently receives about 500,000 visitors drawn from over 25 nations.
In 2015, WRSP ended its hosting relationship with Virginia Commonwealth University and began functioning as an independent organization. In 2021, WRSP incorporated in the State of Virginia and received Internal Revenue Service recognition as a 501c(3) entity.
Original material published on WRSP is freely available for personal and educational use. Authors retain copyright control over their text material and must grant permission for use that is not personal or educational. Images accompanying text may require separate use permission.
Organizational governance of the incorporated WRSP entity is vested in a Board of Directors. Officers in the Board of Directors are as follows:
Dr. David G. Bromley
School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Joseph Laycock, Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy, Texas State University
Dr. Catherine Wessinger, Rev. H. James Yamauchi, S.J. Professor of the History of Religions
Department of Religious Studies, Loyola University, New Orleans
The WRSP academic project is administered primarily through a combination of the Board of Directors and the Senior Directors of WRSP Special Projects.
The lead Senior Project Directors of WRSP Special Projects are as follows:
Australian Religious and Spiritual Traditions
Dr. Carole Cusack, University of Sydney
Canadian Religious and Spiritual Traditions
Dr. Susan Palmer, Concordia University
Japanese New Religions
Dr. Ian Reader, University of Manchester
Marian Apparitional and Devotional Groups
Dr. Joseph Laycock, Texas State University
New Religious Movements and the Visual Arts
Dr. Massimo Introvigne, CESNUR
Religion and Spirituality in Russia and Eastern Europe
Dr. Kaarina Aitamurto, University of Helsinki
Spiritual and Religious Traditions in Italy
Dr. Stefania Palmisano, University of Turin
Spiritual and Visionary Communities
Dr. Timothy Miller, University of Kansas
Women in the World’s Religions and Sprituality Project
Dr. Rebecca Moore, San Diego State University (Emerita)
Yoga in World Religions and Spiritualities
Dr. Suzanne Newcombe, Open University
The World Religions and Spirituality Project gratefully acknowledges funding from the Virginia Commonwealth University Honors College, the Shand Research Grant Program administered by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Thomas Robbins Trust, and anonymous individual donors. This funding has been particularly instrumental in initial project development. WRSP is in the process of building an endowment to support the work of building and sustaining the project.