Dr. Black received her Ph.D. from Drew Theological School in the field of Religion and Society. Her work focuses in Congregational and Mormon Studies. She also holds a Master of Arts degree, also in the field of Religion and Society from Drew University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Montana. She teaches applied ethics courses and has been both a team coach and a judge for National and local Ethics Bowl competitions.
Her first book A Sociology of Mormon Kinship was published in 2015. This work explores the way Mormon congregations apply the idea of family in establishing themselves as special types of kinship networks. She has presented her work at numerous professional conferences including the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and has an article featured in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought regarding women and the priesthood within Mormonism. She currently serves as a board member for the Mormon Social Science Association.
Dr. Black is a first-generation student and grew up in rural central Utah. She was raised in the LDS Church but officially left as an adult. This personal background allows her to utilize the insider/outsider model of inquiry which gives her a unique perspective into Mormon thought and experience. She is now a member of the Community of Christ which is a progressive denomination within the Mormon movement and will be ordained to the office of Elder this year.
Cited most often as an ethnographer, her work appeals to a diverse range of disciplines. Dr. Black currently resides in Oakland, California with her husband and four cats.
Extensive research has been conducted in exploration of the American religious landscape; however, only recently has social science research started to explore nonbelief in any detail. Research on nonbelief has been limited as most research focuses on the popularity of the religious “nones” or the complexities of alternative faith expressions such as spirituality. Through two studies, one qualitative and one quantitative, Dr. Christopher F. Silver's research explored how nonbelievers’ self-identify.
A candid discussion with Nancy Ross about Mormon women's experiences with wearing LDS garments. From the paper "LDS Garments and Agency: A Qualitative Study of Meaning" by Nancy Ross and Jessica Finnigan: "The form of LDS garments has changed over time, from wrist-to-ankle, single-piece long underwear, to versions that included short sleeves and legs, to the two-piece styles that are common today. One of the most difficult aspects of studying garments is that talking about them is a transgressive act." This is that boundary pushing discussion.
By comparing the Miss Christian America pageant to other more well known pageants Miss USA and Miss America, Chelsea's study provides a look at the intersections between religion, gender, and collective identity. Using Christian Smith's ideas of subcultural identity, Belanger examines how the structure of the Miss Christian pageant helps develop a unique form of embodied religion.