Congrats to Our M.A. Graduates

Graduation picture of students from the 1930sIt’s certainly been an odd end to the Spring 2020 semester, what with universities across the country and around the world moving to remote instruction; that means that there was an abrupt end to meeting in-person with classes, so we’ve not had our Honors Day, when we traditionally recognize our students’ accomplishments.

Although we posted an Honors Day video, in place of our longstanding tradition of meeting together on the balcony, we’d also like to highlight the fine work carried out by our current class of graduating M.A. students, the third group that has graduated from the degree. Continue reading

Going Remote

Video-conference call scene from the movie 2001: A Space OdysseyIt’s surely not news to anyone that we’ve gone remote, taking all REL courses online as part of our effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. The University of Alabama, like so many schools nation-wide (let alone throughout the world) continues on what we call limited business operations (LBO), with academic offices closed, in-person classes suspended, students gone from the residences, and only essential employees still working on campus. (Get info on UA’s response to the pandemic.) But classes continue, thanks to a some technologies that we’ve been using. Continue reading

Upcoming REL Events Canceled

Canceled Sign in an airport

With Spring break right around the corner, during which little might be taking place on campus, but happening just as the nation-wide spread of the COVID-19 virus shows no signs of slowing down, we felt that it was necessary to be proactive and to think ahead a little, so that REL students, faculty, and staff know that at least a few things are settled for the coming weeks.

Because the experts continue to tell us that not only regular hand-washing, etc. but also maintaining a strategic social distance are crucial elements to curtailing the spread of the illness — going so far as to advise against attending unnecessary large events or engaging in unnecessary travel  — we thought it wise to just go ahead now and cancel some of our upcoming events:

– The 18th annual Aronov Lecture, on April 6, with our guest lecturer coming to Alabama from New York, has been canceled and is being rescheduled for the Fall semester.

– The 7th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on March 26 is canceled.

– The 19th annual REL Honors Day reception on the balcony, on Apr. 3, is also cancelled; instead, award winners will have letters sent to them in the coming weeks.

In part because we are currently unsure what the University will be doing in the coming weeks, it pains us to send out this news now; but, ensuring that our students, staff, and faculty stay healthy and also stay informed are among our highest priorities.

Be well during the Spring break and stay in touch with UA news in case an announcement is made concerning post-Spring break classes.

Call for Submissions: Alum Liaison Committee Award

Old typewriter keys

Are you a student in an REL class this year (whether or not you;re a major or minor in our Department) who is game to write approx. 500 words on:

  • How you found the study of religion at UA
  • Aspects of the field that you found surprising
  • Unexpected ways in which you might apply what you’ve learned

If so, then our Alum Liaison Committee, comprised of four REL grads,
wants to hear from you!

Annually, at the Department’s Honors Day ceremony, the members of the Alum Liaison Committee award a small number of prizes to the essays that they found most interesting, surprising, or even compelling.

Get more details on the award and consider applying.
Deadline: March 1, 2020.

Submissions should be sent to Prof. Vaia Touna (who will then share them with the committee); they must also contain:

  • The student’s name, CWID, and email address
  • The student’s College (A&S, Business, Nursing, Social Work, Engineering, etc.) as well as their Major/Minor
  • The REL course/section in which the student was/is enrolled and its year/semester
  • The student’s status (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior) at the time of their submission

Be creative!

A Call for Nominations

The four inaugural alum recognotion award winners in 2019Last year we created a new award, given out at Honors Day 2019 for the first time: the Alum Recognition Award. It acknowledges the ongoing contributions to the Department that our graduates continue to make and/or the interesting challenges they tackle and notable accomplishment they make in their chosen professions and lives. All B.A. majors and minors who have graduated from the Department of Religious Studies, as well as those who have completed the REL M.A., are eligible to be considered.

Based on annual nominations the REL faculty determines each year’s recipient(s).

If awardees are able to attend, the awards are given out at Honors Day each year (this year: Friday, April 3, 2020); otherwise, awards will be mailed. (Pictured above: our four inaugural recipients, at Honors Day 2019, all members of our Alum Liaison Committee).

So, this is a call for nominations.

Each nomination letter must be no more than two single-spaced pages in length; letters must note when the nominee graduated from the University of Alabama, their degree, as well as their major(s) and minor(s). The letter will draw our attention to the alum’s professional and/or personal accomplishments since leaving UA, where possible paying special attention to the ways in which their training and time in our Department has been used by them since leaving Manly Hall. Finally, those writing letters should alert the nominee of their nomination.

No self-nominations, please.

Signed letters of nomination should be sent to Dr. Vaia Touna, either in hard copy, c/o The Department of Religious Studies, 212 Manly Hall, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487-0264, or as file attached emails.

Deadline: All nominations must be received by the end of the business day on Friday, February 28, 2020.

Recipients will be notified in early March 2020. And, whether nominated or not, we always welcome alums to join us again for our annual Honors Day reception on the balcony.

We look forward to receiving your nominations.

Honors Day 2019 in Photos

Last Friday, the Department of Religious Studies hosted its annual Honor’s Day reception on the second-floor balcony of Manly Hall. Friends and family traveled in from around the state (and nation) to celebrate award recipients. The agreeable weather, tasty food, and great company made for an ideal day to celebrate the hard work of faculty and students over the last year.

Earlier in the week office workers and groundskeepers broke out the zip-ties to hang every Silverstein banner (between 2002 and 2019). Many of the guests who were majors in the Department before graduating could find their own names listed on the railings. Current MA student, Sierra Lawson, and REL Senior, Ellie Cochran stand behind one of these banners to chat as they grab lunch catered by the Cypress Inn.

Continue reading

A Look Back on 2018-2019

Yes, it’s Honors Day again!

And what better time is there to look back on another great year in REL — from a busy student association, some wonderful B.A. students, and faculty who all go the extra mile, to grad students successfully using Manly Hall as a springboard
to bigger and better things…

Highlights from 2018-19 from UA Religious Studies on Vimeo.

See you on the balcony around 12:00 noon, for some awards,
some food, and a few surprises.

Thanks to Ellie Cochran for the slide show

 

Spring Semester Coming Attractions

After Spring break there’s plenty happening in REL.

Apart from the American Examples workshop, mentioned in a post yesterday, on the first Monday back, starting at 10 am, we have our annual button event, just in time for the upcoming registration for Fall classes (which opens on Mon, Mar. 25). Once again, Prof. Newton is at the helm and he’d love to see you stop buy, hand out a few buttons and some info on classes. The REL tent will be set up adjacent to Manly Hall, in the usual spot.

On March 27, from 7-9 pm, Grad Tales returns, with REL grad Chris Hurt being interviewed by REL grad Justin Nelson (and member of REL’s Alum Liaison Committee). Chris, a 2008 grad, has a day job, sure, but is also actively pursuing a career in music, out in LA, with the Jamestown Pagans. More info about our event here. Or catch him on lead vocals and keyboard here: Continue reading

Honors Day 2019 Recipients Announced

Letters went out a week ago so it’s time to make some public announcements concerning those students receiving awards at our Honors Day celebrations this coming April.

So we’re very pleased to announce that 16 REL majors and/or Judaic Studies minors are receiving this year’s Silverstein Scholars award, recognizing their accomplishment in our classes. Find their names at the award link.

Three B.A. students will share the award for the Outstanding Student in the Academic Study of Religion, recognizing their overall contributions to the Department.

And two graduating M.A. students will each share this year’s Goodwyn award.

All presentations (along with a few surprises) will be made at the annual REL ceremony, on our balcony on Honors Day (Friday, April 5), beginning around noon (or immediately following the conclusion of the A&S ceremony); as always, we’ll have some good food, a few speeches, and we’re hoping to see our alums as well as all majors and minors in the Department.

The A&S grad event is Monday April 1 @ 4 pm in the Moody Music Hall Recital Hall (where Prof. Simmons will make a presentation to our Goodwyn recipients) and the A&S undergrad event is Friday April 5 @ 10 am in the main concert hall of Moody Music Hall (where Prof. Altman will recognize our three Outstanding Student award winners).

Congratulations to everyone!