Two Interdisciplinary Majors: Adding More Insights and Skills

Katherine Hartley is a senior finishing up her final semester within the Religious Studies department and New College. She hales from Pace, Florida, and has served as a Resident Advisor in Paty Hall while also succeeding as a scholar. Although she recently joined our department, she has accomplished some amazing things utilizing the skills of a Religious Studies scholar. New College is a specifically interdisciplinary program where Katherine has been able to pick and choose specific classes that interest her and will eventually help her reach her final objective, where she is specifically focused on alcohol studies and understanding community.

While completing her undergrad Katherine has succeeded in conducting undergraduate research. She won the Levitetz Lightbulb award, which New College awards to those who use creative problem solving skills and research to address a real-world problem. Katherine’s project “Bama Bites Back: Alternative Solutions for the Removal of Alabama’s Invasive Plant Species,” in her own words, is

Katherine found out about the work that is done within religious studies from her friend Lauren Thompson (currently a 1st year MA student within our department). Katherine then added Religious Studies as a double major. Within New College Kathrine was used to a close-knit program and that is also what drew her into the Religious Studies department. Katherine, who is wanting to apply to graduate MA programs for anthropology, thought that adding Religious Studies would set her apart from other candidates. Religious Studies also helps to refine her critical thinking and writing skills before she enters an MA program.

This semester, she is studying Theories of Myth (REL 341), which first caught her attention as she said she was always curious about Greek and Roman mythologies. As a child she read the Percy Jackson series and this idea of myth stuck with her. Within REL 341 she has expanded her understanding of mythology to be so much more than Percy Jackson; according to Bruce Lincoln, one of the scholars they are studying, myths are “ideology in narrative form” (Theorizing Myth).

Katherine is also taking REL 315, Digital Humanities, taught this spring by Prof. Richard Newton. In this course she is learning to work with multiple tools needed to enter into the increasingly digital “real world,” as Dr. Newton pushes his students to grow and works to prepare them to enter into the work force with both useful tools and personal resilience. His students have been tasked to utilize a past form of research and refine it further by using various digital tools. Katherine is focusing on the past research related to her family lineage. She completed this research within her class “Food ways in American History,” and she is excited to be able to utilize adobe tools to further her research.


Religious Studies, like New College, has an interdisciplinary focus. For Katherine, the addition of the major has given her new insights into the world around her as well as skills to engage that world in the digital age. Kathrine has also been able to form valuable networking connections with the various professors in the field. Thus, Religious Studies helps her ask new questions and build on her past knowledge and research. She now knows to question what is normally overlooked and to always recognize … it depends.

This post is part of a series that highlights the range of accomplishments that students in
Religious Studies achieve while at the Capstone and in their lives after graduation. We all hear
questions like, “What are you going to do with a Religious Studies degree?” As this series makes
clear, the skills that students develop in Religious Studies, including critical thinking, interacting
with diverse viewpoints, social analysis, and the ability to communicate to multiple audiences,
contribute to a broad range of activities and careers.