Attention Budding Religious Studies Scholars


    Fragonard, A Young Scholar (Wallace Collection)

“Thoughts are the precious seeds of which our universities should be the botanical gardens.  Beware when God lets loose a thinker on the world—either Carlyle or Emerson said that—for all things then have to rearrange themselves.  But the thinkers in their youth are almost always very lonely creatures.  ‘Alone the great sun rises and alone spring the great streams.’  The university most worthy of rational admiration is that one in which your lonely thinker can feel himself least lonely, most positively furthered, and most richly fed.”

–William James, “The True Harvard” (1903)

Before loosing you on an unsuspecting world, the Religious Studies Department wishes to cultivate your thoughts in the manner James extolls.  With hopes of furthering your ideas most positively, richly feeding your research, and providing stimulating intellectual companionship, we invite you to participate in the Department’s 4th Annual Religious Studies Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Please consider reworking a paper you have written for a course and presenting it before assembled friends, family, and faculty (on Wednesday morning March 29).  You will work under the supervision of your professor and receive additional comment from Prof. Bagger.  When you present your research alongside your peers, the audience will have the opportunity to ask you questions about your ideas.  In the past students have found the entire process tremendously rewarding, and the event has become a highlight of the Department’s academic year.  Speak to your professor should you wish to participate.

The University provides a similar opportunity on March 30.  The Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Conference brings together students from throughout the University to showcase their research.  To participate in the URCA, students must submit an abstract of their research online during the first seventeen days of February.  To assist you in that process, the University will schedule abstract-writing workshops in advance of the February deadline.

If honing your ideas and scholarly skills (as well as representing the Department of Religious Studies before the University community) does not provide sufficient incentive—as James would well recognize it might not: “Experience has proved that great as the love of truth may be among men, it can be made still greater by adventitious rewards” (“The PhD Octopus,” 1903)—the University has seen fit to supply cash prizes.  For more information, see Prof. Bagger or visit URCA.UA.EDU.  You may, of course, participate in both the Department Symposium and the University Conference.