R Wood

Richard L. Wood

Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of the Southwest Institute on Religion, Culture, and Society, University of New Mexico
Chapter Member: New Mexico SSN

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About Richard

Wood writes about the role of religion in democratic life, especially the role of faith communities in advancing the common good and the interests of middle class, working class, and poor communities. His current book manuscript, Faith and the Fire of Public Life, studies congregations in 13 cities to analyze how democratic engagement can strengthen faith communities. Wood has collaborated to advance strategic thinking within several of the national faith-based community organizing networks (the PICO National Network, Gamaliel Foundation, Industrial Areas Foundation, DART, and the InterValley Project). As research director for Interfaith Funders, Wood oversees “State of the Field 2011,” a new census of all congregation-based community organizing efforts in the United States. He serves as co-editor of the Cambridge Series on Social Theory, Religion, and Politics. During 2010-2011, Wood served as the President of the UNM Faculty Senate, working with other faculty, staff, student, administrative, and regent leaders in re-imagining and re-funding the university’s academic mission. Wood serves as a pro-bono advisor to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the major anti-poverty initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


In the News

Richard L. Wood quoted by Rachel Whitt UNM Newsroom, October 5, 2017.
Richard L. Wood's research on faith-based community organizing discussed by Aaron Hilf, "UNM Professor’s New Book Explores American Racial Divide," Inside UNM, December 16, 2015.
Richard L. Wood's research on the intersection of faith and public life in the United States discussed by Aaron Hilf, "UNM Researcher Travels East to Track Pope Francis’ Visit," UNM Newsroom, October 2, 2015.
Richard L. Wood quoted on the Pope repositioning the public Catholic message around a much broader set of issues by Olivier Uyttebrouck, "Pope’s Visit Excites Faithful in New Mexico" Albuquerque Journal, September 22, 2015.


"Public Catholicism" in The Future of American Catholicism, edited by Timothy Matovino and Patricia Killen (Columbia University Press, forthcoming).
Argues that while the American Catholic church draws on an impressive institutional presence in American public life, internal church dynamics undermine its potential influence in deepening democracy and justice in American society.
"Higher Power: Strategic Capacity for State and National Organizing" in Transforming the City: Community Organizing and the Challenge of Political Change, edited by Marion Orr (University of Kansas Press, 2007), 162-192.
Offers a case study of the PICO National Network’s success in projecting political power from below into state- and national-level political arenas, in favor of public policy that favors working families.
Faith in Action: Religion, Race, and Democratic Action in America (University of Chicago Press, 2003).
Shows how specific organizing practices and specific dimensions of religious culture can foster democratic civic engagement and successful organizing.