Tag: Critical Thinking


The Relevance of Religious Studies is Not that We Study Religion

Jacob Barrett is a first year M.A. student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. From Colorado Springs, he earned his B.A. from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Philosophy & Religion and Biology. In the Spring he will present his research at the southeast regional meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Junior year of my undergraduate degree, I was asked by the chair of the Religious Studies department to represent the major at an event where […]

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The Ins and Outs of Archival Research

Prof. Nathan Loewen received funding from the University of Alabama, a while back, to conduct archival research on the Derrida Papers in Irvine, California. So REL MA student, Morgan Frick, posed a few questions to him about what all that archival work entails. Morgan: What was the project and how did you hope to improve your research with this archival work? Nathan: In 2016-17, I was really fortunate to be funded by the Research Grants Committee at UA. My position at […]

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Navigating a Diverse World Critically

The World Religions course is a fabulous opportunity to teach students to think critically about the various representations of the world’s religious traditions. With the critique of the world religions paradigm and its colonial roots (see Masuzawa’s Invention fo World Religions), as well as problematic assumptions contained in any singular description of world religions (see, for example, my Culture on the Edge post The Harm of World Religions), it is vital to challenge singular narratives and to help our students […]

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Always Look at Who’s Talking

As the AAR presents its newly drafted Religious Literacy Guidelines, Sierra Lawson (BA ’17, MA ’19) and Prof. Steven Ramey return to their research on the implications of classification to raise important questions about the politics and consequences of such a framing. Religious literacy, which typically refers to knowledge about religions, differences between religions, and diversity within each religion, can reinforce problematic claims about social groups (as evident in the chart reproduced above). Useful knowledge can easily become harmful, especially […]

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Country Music

You a fan of country music? If so, then you may already know about Ken Burns’ new 16 hour documentary, on PBS. (Maybe you’ve seen some of his others…?) But if you’re not a fan you probably should still be watching it, since (at least in the first episode) it provides some wonderful examples of how a scholar who goes digging in the archives, after the little details, can unearth some really interesting things. […]

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What’s Screamo? How the Same Term Can Mean Different Things

Kyle Ashley is a junior from Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Majoring in Religious Studies, his main interests include loitering in libraries, copious amounts of coffee, and keeping it emo in 2019. “Knuckle Puck is awesome, but they can be a little screamo,” my stepbrother Tanner states, responding to my recommendation for which band he should play next. “Ya… I guess.” I respond. We were fresh off attending the “Last cross-country Warped Tour” (Vans Warped Tour, for those who may not know, […]

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Grad Student Interns with Alabama Heritage Magazine

As part of the MA in Religion in Culture at UA, students attend a monthly colloquium designed to introduce them to community members seeking graduates with strong critical thinking skills. During these meetings, the Department of Religious Studies brings in individuals from within and outside of the University to share their experiences in the job market. Their presentations often focus on the ways that the tools each MA student is cultivating in their humanities courses can be useful outside of […]

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Argument Analysis: Legion v. American Humanist Association

Jackson Foster is a freshman at UA, majoring in Religious Studies and History and minoring in the Blount Undergraduate Initiative and Randall Research Scholars Program. He is currently studying the intersections between law, politics, and religion in Dr. Altman’s REL130 course. This piece was originally published in High School SCOTUS, a national Supreme Court blog comprised of young students like Jackson. The Supreme Court heard arguments last month in American Legion v. American Humanist Association, a case involving a 40-foot […]

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Symposium Recap

Symposium recap

Last week, the Department of Religious Studies hosted its annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at Gorgas Library. Students from Religious Studies courses collaborated with advisors on written projects before presenting their work at the event. The unique topics, challenging question-answer portion, and free coffee made for a refreshing Friday morning. Professors, alumni, MA students, and undergraduates used social media to keep up with the event. […]

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Spotlighting Graduating MA Students

Emma Gibson and Sierra Lawson have spent the last two years developing their skills in research, social theory, and the public and digital humanities among other useful accomplishments. This spring, both students will graduate with a Master’s of Arts in Religion in Culture and plan to put their analytical tools to work as they further their education. Emma will pursue a Master’s of Architecture while Sierra earns a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. Find out what these young women have planned […]

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