The Religion and Culture program was founded in 1994 as the Ukrainian Church Studies Program. It is devoted to the study of all aspects of the religious experience of Ukrainians in Ukraine and in the Ukrainian diaspora (especially in Canada), from the history and politics of religion to sacral art, architecture, and music.
The initiator and first director of the Religion and Culture program was Dr. Serhii Plokhy, now Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of History at Harvard University. Under his successor, Dr. John-Paul Himka, the program focused on Ukrainian sacral art, architecture, and music. In particular, he launched Sanctuary: The Spiritual Heritage Documentation Project. This is a project to preserve a visual and oral history record of the Ukrainian churches and other sacral monuments of the three prairie provinces, as well as to digitize recordings of their liturgical music. It continues to be sponsored by the Religion and Culture program.
The Program is the site of the Bohdan Bociurkiw Library, a collection which contains many unique items and documents pertaining to the Ukrainian church and serves as the basis for the program’s reference library. Professor Bociurkiw (1925‒1998) was one of the “founding fathers” both of the CIUS and of the Religion and Culture Program. Every year the Program hosts the Bohdan Bociurkiw Memorial Lecture.
In co-operation with other units of the Institute, the Program has produced a number of publications and has sponsored conferences. The Program has also co-sponsored visits to the University of Alberta by distinguished scholars.