What You Missed at This Week’s Grad’s Tale


Wednesday saw the semester’s first installment of “There and Back Again: A Grad’s Tale,” an event that brings back alumni who graduated from UA with a degree in Religious Studies to talk about life-after-diploma. This time, Prof. Mike Altman talked to Hannah Hicks, now a second-year law student here at UA. A double major in Religious Studies and Philosophy who graduated in 2013, Hannah talked about the ways in which her degrees in the liberal arts helped prepare her for her post-graduate studies. Specifically, she related the importance of the critical thinking skills she gained from her majors. Hannah’s interested in “public interest law”—an area of legal studies focused on advocating for or meeting the needs of specific communities (often, this happens through working with nonprofit organizations or specialized groups). With this in mind, she talked about how her work in the Religious Studies Department has helped her to think analytically—and not just in terms of statistical description—about what she deems to be “structural violences” like systemic racism and poverty.

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An Interview with Nathan Loewen


We recently interviewed one of the newest members of our faculty, Dr. Nathan Loewen. Read what he has to say about his interests, background, and new job as Assistant Professor and Faculty Technology Liaison.

Q: Where did you train? What are your areas of research and teaching interest?

A: My areas of research and teaching interest include religion in modernity, philosophy of religion, the cross-section of religious studies with international development studies, and higher education pedagogy.

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Applications Everywhere

2756494307_a0380a96e0_zMany of our students have been writing personal statements for grad school, applications for Fulbright fellowships and other international opportunities, and cover letters to send with their resumes. But those tasks are not something that they will conclude when they finish their education. They will probably continue to revise narratives and letters for applications throughout their careers. Those who go into academia, for example, will have to apply for jobs, tenure, and grants. For example, right now, the department is working on a significant grant application to submit to the National Endowment for the Humanities towards the end of this semester. Continue reading

Who’s Teaching Whom?

syllabusAn undergrad student is helping out in my large enrollment Introduction to the Study of Religion this semester, getting some experience in the classroom and doing some extra readings on teaching and designing courses. Because comparison is the basis for making any sort of novel claim about the world (“Oh look, that’s higher than this”), one of his first assignments was to hit the web and find several sample syllabi, from other schools, as examples of how other people structure their intro courses. Continue reading

A Grad’s Tale with Hannah Hicks


The Department of Religious Studies is continuing its speaker series, There and Back Again: A Grad’s Tale, and the first installment of the semester is soon to come! Join us on Wednesday, January 28 at 6:00 pm in the Anderson Room of the Ferguson Center (Room 302) as recent grad Hannah Hicks discusses life after graduation.


Hannah earned her B.A. in May 2013. She was a double major in Philosophy and Religious Studies. Hannah is currently in her second year of law school at the University of Alabama School of Law. Hannah will reflect on her time in REL and how she has transitioned into law school.

After she graduated, the University wrote a feature on Hannah, which you can read here.To watch a video of Hannah discussing her time as an undergraduate, click here.

For more information about the series and past speakers, check out our webpage here.

If you can’t be at the event follow it on Twitter by following us at @StudyReligion and the hashtag #GradTales.

The Ordinary as Exotic

Abnormal_BrainLately I’ve been paying some attention to studies of the so-called paranormal or the non-ordinary — this recent podcast for example. For these seem to be fairly recent categories that are growing in popularity among scholars of religion; given the critiques that have been leveled at the category religion over the past few decades, it appears that what many of us might have once called religion or religious experience is now just being classed among an even larger group of curious things — such as “special things,” as Ann Taves does — all in contradistinction to the normal or the ordinary. Continue reading

Everyone Should Major in Religious Studies (Or At Least Take the Intro Class)

what rel majors do

Emily Vork is a sophomore from Ojai, California triple-majoring in History, Religious Studies, and American Studies. Her hobbies include eating and reading Internet comments.

After declaring my second major in Religious Studies, I got asked a lot of questions from home. Whenever I’d tell someone about my new major, I’d always—without fail—receive one of two responses: “Oh, Religious Studies? That makes sense. You’re pretty religious,” or, “Religious Studies? That doesn’t make sense—I thought you were religious!”

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They’re Tiny and They Scurry

Picture 3I heard a book review on the local radio station this morning, focusing on the famous US biologist (specializing in the study of ants) E. O. Wilson’s latest views on, among other things, religion.

And a thought occurred to me: nobody would listen to me if I started talking about ants, would they? And if they did pay attention they’d likely hear what I was saying as mere truisms, repetition of common sense — “Look, they’re tiny and oh, how they scurry about…” — claims hardly heard as making a contribution to the science of mymecology. Continue reading