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  • January 10th, 2022

BEST BETS 

UA COLLABORATES WITH SMITHSONIAN TO CREATE DIGITAL RESOURCE  The University of Alabama Religious Studies Department and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History have formally collaborated to create a digital resource on the religious dimensions of the events that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Uncivil Religion: January 6, 2021, is a website that features scores of digital media — tweets, videos, photos, FBI files, etc. — associated with religions that were represented at the U.S. Capitol that day. The website also features interpretive essays on those religious symbols written by more than a dozen religious studies scholars from around the globe. For more information, contact Shane Dorrill, UA Strategic Communications, at shane.dorrill@ua.edu. 

REALIZING THE DREAM EVENTS FEATURE FORMER ‘THE VIEW’ HOST, GOSPEL STAR — The 2022 Realizing the Dream Banquet and Concert will feature Star Jones and Billboard chart-topping artist Kierra Sheard. Jones, an attorney, journalist and television personality, will speak at the Legacy Awards Banquet Friday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. Gospel singer, songwriter, actress and activist Kierra Sheard will perform at the Realizing the Dream Concert on Sunday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Diane Kennedy-Jackson, UA Community Affairs, at dkkennedy1@ua.edu. 

UA, STATE PARTNER TO TRAIN FIRST RESPONDERS ON MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS  To improve mental health awareness, support and literacy, researchers and social work experts at The University of Alabama are partnering with state agencies to train first responders to identify, understand and respond to signs of substance use disorders and mental illnesses, particularly serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbances. Called Project Support: Mental Health Awareness Training for First Responders, the statewide initiative partners with the Alabama Department of Mental Health, Alabama State Fire Marshal Office and the Alabama Law Enforcement Association. At UA, the effort will be managed by the ongoing VitAL initiative in the School of Social Work. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, at adam.jones@ua.edu. 

CURRENT COMMENT 

U.S. COURT RULING OVER COVID-19 VACCINE EXEMPTIONS COULD HAVE DRAMATIC IMPACT ON MILITARY — A federal judge recently issued a preliminary injunction keeping the U.S. Department of Defense from punishing Navy Seals and other special forces units who refused the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons. “While the Supreme Court has consistently held that a service member gives up certain constitutional rights while in the military and that deference should be given to military officials in terms of their decision-making, the preliminary order barring the Navy from separating a Navy Seal arrives at the intersection of that consistent position and an evolving position on the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion,” said Dr. Allen Linken, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department of political science. “Depending on how the case progresses, this case serves to potentially challenge the power of the president to set rules that affect the military, the rights that military members possess, and/or a change in interpretation to the right to freely practice religion.” To schedule an interview, contact Linken at aelinken@ua.edu. 

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The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.