Winston’s courses examine religion, spirituality and ethics in relationship to journalism, entertainment media, American history and foreign policy. Her class on international religion reporting has taken students to cover conflict and coexistence in Israel and Palestine, growing secularism in Ireland, and elections in India. In addition to partnering with Global Post and KPCC, she has helped students place their work in outlets including the Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Der Spiegel, Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times and the Atlantic.
“Hollywood, Faith and Media,” her course on how television narratives incorporate religion, spirituality and ethics, has hosted writer/directors such as David Shore (House), Barbara Hall (Joan of Arcadia and Madame Secretary) and Ronald Moore (Battlestar Galactica and Outlander). Her other courses include "American Religion, Foreign Policy and the News Media"; "American Spirituality: Radicals, Rebels, and Freethinkers"; and "Jesus is My Homeboy: An Introduction to American Religious History."
In her work as Knight Chair, Winston routinely organizes conferences on religion’s role in the media. Convenings have explored post-9/11 television and the war on terror; religion and electoral politics; Arab democracy in the post-Arab Spring era; religion and the 2016 elections, and the Syrian refugee crisis. In fall 2015, she organized a Visions and Voices event, “Windows on Death Row,” that featured editorial cartoons and art work from Death Row prisoners that illuminated the issue of capital punishment.
Winston is currently working on several research projects, including three books: Un/Real Religion: Religion and Reality TV, an edited collection; Lost and Found: Religion in Los Angeles, also an edited collection; and A Shining City: Religion, News and Reagan’s America. Her other books include: The Oxford Handbook on Religion and the American News Media (Oxford University Press, 2012); Small Screen, Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion, editor (Baylor University Press, 2009).
Awards and honors:
Visions and Voices award, “Waging Peace in Vietnam,” Photography Exhibit and Panel Discussion, 2021
Visions and Voices award, “Last of the Polish Jews,” Film and Panel Discussion, 2018
Visions and Voices award, “Dead Man Walking the Journey Continues,” keynote by Sr. Helen Prejean, and “Windows on Death Row” art exhibition, 2015
Advisory Board, International Consultation on Media, Religion, and Culture, 2014
“How gay rights went mainstream — and what it cost” (Washington Post, 2019).
“Game of Thrones makes us Question Evil in the Real World” (Newsweek, 2019).
“How can Christians support Donald Trump?” (Religion News Service, 2018).
“How Salvation Army’s red kettles became a Christmas tradition” (The Conversation, 2018).
“How a group of California nuns challenged the Catholic Church” (The Conversation, 2017).
“A Pence Presidency Would Give Margaret Atwood’s Dystopian Vision a Run for its Money” (Religion Dispatches, 2017).
“Two Sides of the Same Coin. Teaching Spirituality and Religion to Millennials” (Tricycle, 2017).