Varun Soni is the Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California.
Dean Soni received his B.A. degree in Religion from Tufts University, where he also earned an Asian Studies minor and completed the Program in Peace and Justice Studies. He subsequently received his M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School and his M.A. degree through the Department of Religious Studies at UCSB. He went on to receive his J.D. degree from UCLA School of Law, where he also completed the Critical Race Studies Program and served as the Chief Articles Editor for UCLA's Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law. He earned his Ph.D. through the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town, where his doctoral research focused on religion and popular culture. As an undergraduate student, Dean Soni spent a semester living in a Buddhist monastery in Bodh Gaya, India through Antioch University's Buddhist Studies Program. As a graduate student, he spent months doing field research in South Asia through UCSB's Center for Sikh and Punjab Studies.
Dean Soni is currently a University Fellow at USC Annenberg's Center on Public Diplomacy and is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. He is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Academy of Religion, and the Association for College and University Religious Affairs. He is on the advisory board for the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, the Music Preservation Project, CrossCurrents, and the Journal for Interreligious Dialogue. Prior to joining USC, Dean Soni spent four years teaching in the Law and Society Program at UCSB. While teaching at UCSB, he launched two successful business ventures; the first will release its first graphic novel next year while the second provided legal support to immigration law firms and their client corporations. He also produced and hosted his own radio show on Pacifica / KPFK showcasing music from South Asia and its Diaspora. Born in India and raised in Southern California, he has family on five continents and they collectively represent every major religious tradition in the world.