2023-2025 Multifaith Scholars
Minors: Neuroscience, Interreligious Studies
Mentor: Pamela Winfield (Religious Studies)
Project Title: Bridging West & East: An Alternative for Emotional Regulation
Proposed Research: Explore the extent to which Buddhist subtle body schemes of the Indo-Tibetan sphere relate to neurobiological systems of Euro-American biomedical science, and how might these systems provide complementary resources for emotional self-regulation.
Major: Human Service Studies
Minors: Interreligious Studies, Leadership Studies, French
Mentor: Sandra Reid (Human Service Studies)
Project Title: How Generation Z is Deconstructing Traditional Faith Practices
Proposed Research: Qualitatively examine the differentiation in spirituality, faith practices, and traditions of Generation X (1965-1979) and Generation Z (1995-2012), interrogating the influence of social media on Generation Z on those topics.
Jasper Serenity Meyers
Major: Classical Studies
Minors: Asian Studies, Interreligious Studies
Mentor: Lynn Huber (Religious Studies), Kristina Meinking (Classical Studies)
Project Title: Female Same-Sex Erotic Encounters in the Ancient Mediterranean Religious Landscape
Proposed Research: Investigate the socio-religious-political contexts of the Roman tribas (the woman attracted to other women) and Greek Sapphic identity, including examining the depictions of women who love women within mythological and religious (including magical) traditions.
Major: Cinema and Television Arts
Minor: Interreligious Studies
Mentor: Nicole Triche (Cinema & Television Arts)
Project Title: Vampire Media as a Reflection of Christian Values and Prejudices
Proposed Research: Research the intersection of vampire folklore, religion, and pop culture—specifically literature, film, and TV—to explore how Christian representations and reactions to the vampire reflect concerns with a demonic “other” and may manifest in demonizing marginalized groups through xenophobia, homophobia, and antisemitism.
Majors: Political Science, International & Global Studies
Minors: Interreligious Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies, Spanish
Mentor: Aaron Sparks (Political Science)
Project Title: Examining the Relationship between Religious Identity/Ideology, Political Identity/Ideology, and Pro-Environmental Orientation in American Christians, Muslims, and Jews
Proposed Research: Bring together religion and political science with a focus on pro-environmental orientations by evaluating the extent to which religious identity/ideology and political identity/ideology influence environmental values using established measurement scales.
2022-2024 Multifaith Scholars
Major: Political Science Minor: Religious Studies Mentor: Kathleen Crosby (English) Project Title: Festivals: Exploring the Culture between Religion and Politics Proposed Research: Burnett's research will analyze the religious aspects at various global festivals and how the respective cultures impact secular politics and social relations.
Major: International and Global Studies Minors: Peace and Conflict Studies, Interreligious Studies Mentor: Sandy Marshall (Geography) Project Title: Iraq's Intrareligious Background Proposed Research: Marzella's project will assess how the intrareligious tensions within Islam inform or shape Iraq's national politics.
Majors: International and Global Studies, International Economics Minors: Leadership Studies, Interreligious Studies Mentor: Brian Pennington (Religious Studies) Project Title: Rising Catholic Nationalism in Poland Proposed Research: Przybocki will incorporate fieldwork to investigate the historical and political influences on the Catholic nationalism promoted by Poland's ruling Law and Justice party.
Majors: Political Science, Religious Studies Minors: Leadership Studies, Interreligious Studies Mentor: Amy Allocco (Religious Studies) Project Title: Gender and Caste Identities in the Revitalization of Andal Worship Proposed Research: Scheff's project will identify the ways gender identity and caste politics have influenced the depiction, expression, and worship of Andal, the eighth-century South Indian Tamil poet-saint—the only woman among the Alvar poet-saints who were instrumental in the vernacularization and subsequent democratization of Hindu devotion.
Major: Religious Studies Minor: Music Mentor: Andrew Montheith (Religious Studies) Project Title: Colonialism, Christianity, and Indigenous Support for Cultural Genocide Proposed Research: Walter will investigate the native voices subjected to American colonialism, focusing on the indigenous peoples who accepted Protestant missionaries and experienced cultural genocide as a result.
2021-2023 Multifaith Scholars
Major: Religious Studies Minors: Asian Studies, Leadership Studies Mentor: Dr. Amy Allocco (Religious Studies) Project Title: Analyzing Devotional Sikh Worship and Everyday Religiosity in Keshgarh Sahib Gurudwara Proposed Research: Kaur's research focuses on everyday Sikh religiosity and will analyze the significance of devotional practices performed during congregational worship at the Sahib Keshgarh and related sites in Punjab, India.
Major: English (Creative Writing), Religious Studies Minors: History Mentor: Dr. Drew Perry (Creative Writing) Project Title: Crossing with Crows: Reconciling Christianity with Neopaganism in the Shadow of Grief Proposed Research: Melinson's project will combine creative writing and interreligious studies to produce a collection of creative pieces that reflect on Irish-Catholic culture, pre-Christian Ireland, and his own identities against the backdrop of personal loss.
Majors: Literature, Religious Studies Minor: Criminal Justice Studies Mentor: Dr. Dinidu Karunanayake (English) Project Title: Crossroads of Nationalism and Religious Identity: Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalism and Cultural Memory in the Sri Lankan American Diasporic Community in Staten Island Proposed Research: Rohlf's research will examine the formation of Buddhist cultural memory as it intersects with religious identity and nationalism within the Sri Lankan diaspora community in Staten Island, New York's "Little Sri Lanka."
Majors: International and Global Studies (Middle East Concentration), Religious Studies Minors: Political Science, Middle East Studies Mentor: Dr. Amy Allocco (Religious Studies) Project Title: Creating Narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Through Everyday Materiality in Religious Contexts Proposed Research: Starr's project will utilize ethnographic fieldwork in Jerusalem to understand the "material memories" of contemporary Israelis and Palestinians across religions and experiences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
2020-2022 Multifaith Scholars
Major: Cinema and Television Arts, Religious Studies Mentor: Assistant Professor Ariela Marcus-Sells (Religious Studies) Project Title: Then and Now: The History of Black Muslims in North Carolina Proposed research: Bentley’s project will develop an oral history of the al-Razzaq Islamic Center in Durham, N.C., recording the narratives of its elders to preserve the important role of Black Muslim communities in local North Carolina history.
Major: Computer Science Minors: Mathematics and Data Science, Interreligious Studies Mentor: Professor Megan Squire (Computer Science) Project Title: Analyzing Recruitment and Retention Techniques of Christian Identity Extremist Groups in an Online Context Proposed research: Grant’s research will use social network analysis (SNA) techniques to illustrate the connections between Christian Identity, a religious group that has advanced anti-Semitic and racist ideologies and been linked to terrorist acts.
Major: Journalism, Religious Studies Minors: Professional Writing Studies Mentor: Associate Professor Geoffrey Claussen (Religious Studies) Project Title: Jewish Identity and Wall Street Proposed research: Milstein will use qualitative research methods to study the relationship between Jewish values and the New York financial industry, as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Major: Computer Science Minors: Italian Studies, Interreligious Studies Mentor: Associate Professor Evan Gatti (Art History) Project Title: Religious Fabric Proposed research: Suleiman’s research analyzes the intersections of materiality and religious symbolism, the exchange of textiles between Christianity and Islam, and issues of the display of textiles and clothing in museums, as well as historical influences on contemporary fashion.
Major: Arts Administration Minors: Dance, Business Administration, Interreligious Studies Mentors: Assistant Professor Casey Avaunt (Dance) and Associate Professor Pamela Winfield (Religious Studies) Project Title: The Influence of Japanese Imperialism on Buddhist Seungmu Dance in Korea Proposed research: Wilbourne’s research will track the variation of religious implications in Korea’s Buddhist Seungmu dance from the fourteenth century to Japanese imperialism of the 1900s.
2019-2021 Multifaith Scholars
Mentor: Amanda Tapler Srija Dutta is a Public Health and International Global Studies (Middle East Concentration) double major with minors in Interreligious Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Atlanta, GA. Srija first became interested in religious studies when working extensively with refugees in Clarkston, GA, and her interest escalated as she completed her Public Health Practicum in a rural village in Jamkhed, Maharashtra. Being the daughter of first-generation immigrants, Srija strives to use her privilege in efforts to study and advance Women's Health outcomes within marginalized populations. Through her exposure to Hindu identities within her family, and her extensive studies of the Islamic faith through her Middle Eastern Studies courses, Srija developed an interest in analyzing and comparing the public health outcomes among religious communities-- bringing together her Public Health and International Studies majors. Being born in Kolkata, Srija made it a priority to conduct her research in a manner that would benefit those from her hometown who did not have the same privilege and opportunity that she did. Srija plans on conducting researchat Hamari Muskan, a nonprofit organization in rural India that focuses on aiding and providing support for women that actively part take in sex work. Through her research, Srija strives to create a sense of empowerment and sustainable health for these vulnerable women while actively conducting research to further her academic interests.
Mentor: Brian Pennington Madison Gray is an Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Adventure Based Learning double major with an Interreligious Studies minor from Richmond, Virginia. She grew up in a secular household, and her interest in multifaith engagement began when transferred to a Catholic high school her sophomore year. Exposure to a new religious community piqued Madison's curiosity, inspiring her to apply for Multifaith Scholars to learn more about interfaith issues and religious diversity. Madison's research plans to incorporate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping in order to explore intersections between religion and environment at the Hindu-Buddhist Angkor Wat group of monuments in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Sarah Jane McDonald
Mentor: Mussa Idris Sarah Jane (SJ) McDonald is a Religious Studies and International/Global Studies (Africa concentration) double major with minors in Leadership and Peace/Conflict Studies. Sarah Jane’s interest in religion and the ways faith traditions interact began in high school and has grown throughout her time at Elon through a variety of opportunities. Sarah Jane’s research centers around the role of religion in the lives of East African migrants, specifically refugees in Tanzania and Greensboro. Her project combines her study of Africa with a passion for refugees and will include ethnographic fieldwork while abroad in Tanzania.
Mentor: Sandy Marshall Kylee Smith is a Policy Studies major and with a double minor in Inter-Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies from Sugar Land, TX. Kylee’s interest in multi-faith work began her senior year in high school when her school's diversity theme for the year was “Healing Islamaphobia.” This sparked her initial interest in gaining a better understanding of other religious traditions and working alongside those facing discrimination. She interned in Refugee Resettlement the Summer of 2018 where her experiences opened her eyes to the stigmatization, prejudice, and discrimination refugees in America face simply due to their religion. As a Multi-Faith Scholar, Kylee will conduct qualitative research amongst resettled Muslim migrants to understand what impact relocation to a secular and religiously diverse country has had on their religious views and practices.
2018-2020 Multifaith Scholars
Marjorie Ann Foster
Mentors: Glenn Scott & Amy Allocco Marjorie Anne Foster is a Journalism major and an InterReligious Encounters minor from Columbia, South Carolina. Marjorie Anne has always been interest in multi-faith work sense her early years of high school. In 2015, she spent a year traveling abroad and learning with diverse religious communities. Some of her travels included Nepal, India, Thailand, Peru and Swaziland. Through her travels and classroom endeavors, she has developed a deep respect for those of different faiths, particularly those practicing in their youth. Through her academics and personal pursuits, Marjorie Anne has seen the divide between the modern day faith practitioners and the way they are presented in the media. This has fueled her to research more about different faith communities and produce journalistic work that more appropriately reflects their modern-day lives and traditions. Marjorie Anne’s research as a Multi-faith Scholar will be focused on Muslim youths and the systems, structures and struggles they may face while at an American University. Her hope is to create a more accurate portrayal of these students live's in order to build a bridge between different individuals and combat the bias and negative attention these people groups may receive in the press.
Mentor: Amy Allocco Kathryn Gerry is a political science and international global studies (Middle East concentration) double major with minors in inter-religious studies and Asian studies from Boston, Massachusetts. Kathryn’s interest in religious studies emerged from her practice of yoga in high school. At Elon University she was introduced to and became passionate about the field of religion in academia. Through multiple religious studies classes, Kathryn developed an excitement for learning about the interactions of various religions with each other and the globalizing world. Her research as a Multi-Faith Scholar focuses on the phenomena of worker migration in the South Indian state of Kerala. Kathryn’s project will examine the implications of this migration and subsequent flows of ideas, practices, and money on social, religion, and economic landscapes in Kerala.
Mentors: Brian Pennington & Amy Allocco Katie Hooker is a Strategic Communications major and an Interreligious Studies minor from Medfield, MA. Katie's interest in interfaith work began in an introductory religion class at Elon and grew as she started to think about coursework through a personal lens. Katie's research as a Multifaith Scholar will focus on the impact of Christian Missionaries on indigenous religions in Haiti, such as Haitian Vodou. Before passing away in 2016, Katie's aunt travelled to Haiti over twenty times to build an orphanage and provide humanitarian aid alongside her church group. Katie is interested in how people of different religious backgrounds interact in the context of charity and missionary work and is excited to combine academic research with a personal interest.
Mentor: Geoffrey Claussen Hannah Thorpe is a junior from Annapolis, MD with majors in Religious Studies and Psychology and a minor in Political Science. Hannah has always been interested in the way religion quietly influenced our everyday lives, and especially the way people of different religious backgrounds interact. Hannah is interested in how prejudice plays a role in and among people who come from different traditions and how each tradition situates itself around inter religious encounters. This drove her to her Religious Studies major and to applying to the MultiFaith Scholars program at Elon. Her research centers around Jewish responses to NeoNazi movements in the United States.
Mentors: Colin Donahue & Ariela Marcus-Sells Sonya Walker is a religious studies and journalism double major from Church Creek, Maryland. She came to Elon with a dream of becoming a journalist but quickly was interested in multi-faith issues, especially surrounding Islam and its position within the world of journalism. Sonya’s research surrounds Islamophobia in the America airline industry with a focus on the intersections and representations of different religious traditions including Sikhism. Sonya looks forward to bringing together her interests in journalism and ethnography in this project and hopes to produce both scholarly and journalistic final pieces.
2017-2019 Multifaith Scholars
Mentor: Toddie Peters Kristina Meyer is a religious studies and mathematics double major from Richmond, V.A. Kristina’s interest in multi-faith work began in high school when she began to befriend people who came from diverse religious backgrounds. In these interactions with her new friends, Kristina learned to appreciate what made her and her friends both similar and different from one another. This fueled her interest to be involved in various interfaith organizations and programs upon coming to Elon. Her involvement in these organizations has caused her to examine the difference between programmatic dialogue and actively addressing actual social issues. Kristina’s research as a Multi-faith Scholar will be focused on considering how justice-oriented interfaith organizations interact with faith communities to promote participation in social justice work for their participants and congregations.
Mentor: Amy Allocco Styrling Rohr is a religious studies and anthropology double major from Cincinnati, O.H. Styrling was inspired to further her understanding of the world’s religions, particularly in Hinduism, after feeling like she had more to learn after her experience with religious studies in high school. Styrling is fascinated by the sometimes blurred lines that can exist between religious traditions and has further delved into this interest in religious diversity through her involvement in Periclean Scholars. In her work with Periclean Scholars, Styrling and her cohort have been working to push for inter-faith work and reconciliation efforts with a community partner on the ground in Sri Lanka. In her work as a Multi-faith Scholar, Styrling plans to analyze the ways in which South Asian musical and performance traditions may cross religious boundaries among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.
Mentor: Brian Pennington Sophie Zinn is an international studies and political science double major from Indianapolis, I.N. Sophie became most interested in multi-faith engagement during her time in a Jesuit high school. As a Jewish woman, Sophie felt inspired by the diverse representation of religious backgrounds around her and leaned in to learning more about the world’s religions. One of her courses, “Social Justice and Decision Making,” furthered her interest in religious studies and after discovering many of the injustices of the world, Sophie became a strong advocate for universal human rights. As a Multi-faith Scholar, Sophie plans on investigating religion and secularism in the public sphere through research on migrant populations from Middle Eastern countries in Europe.