Six juniors have been named as members of the first cohort of Multi-faith Scholars, an experientially rich and academically rigorous educational opportunity for juniors and seniors who show great potential as curious and socially engaged multi-faith leaders.

This two-year program combines academic coursework, mentored undergraduate research and community engagement in multi-faith contexts in order to encourage learning and reflection on a range of multi-faith issues.

Elon student Audrey Griffith consults with Rukmini Devi at the Kapaleeshwar Temple in Chennai, India.Amy Allocco, associate professor of religious studies and director of the Multi-faith Scholars program, expressed her excitement about the inaugural cohort. “Along with their incredible passion about their proposed research projects, each of these students conveyed a remarkable openness to the potential challenges as well as the rewards of engaged multi-faith learning and encounter,” she said. “Moreover, they were articulate about the value of undertaking these experiences as part of a small and supportive cohort and recognize the importance of sharing their experiences with the wider campus community.”

The six Multi-faith Scholars will pursue projects ranging from:

  • Examining the role of faith-based values in non-governmental organizations in India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United States;
  • Exploring historical attitudes and contemporary interactions between Jews and Christians in Israel and the United States;
  • Analyzing the ways in which South Asian musical and performance traditions may cross religious boundaries among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians;
  • Considering how justice-oriented interfaith organizations interact with faith communities to promote participation in social justice work for their participants and congregations;
  • Investigating religion and secularism in the public sphere through research on migrant populations from Middle Eastern countries in Europe;
  • And researching the training practices of faith-based organizations in North Carolina and Texas as they prepare employees for interactions with refugees from diverse religious backgrounds.

The 2017 Multi-faith Scholars are:

Samantha Crosier
English and political science
Mentor: Geoffrey Claussen

Kannon Hall
Strategic communications and international studies
Mentor: Shereen Elgamal

Kristina Meyer
Religious studies and mathematics
Mentor: Toddie Peters

Jocelyn Pietro
Public health and psychology
Mentor: Amanda Tapler

Styrling Rohr
Religious studies and anthropology
Mentor: Amy Allocco

Sophie Zinn
International studies and political science
Mentor: Brian Pennington

The Multi-faith Scholars program was established through a 2016 seed grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. It will provide $10,000 of support to each scholar over the course of their final two years of study as they undertake these projects and engage with local religious communities.

Administered by the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society (CSRCS), the new Multi-faith Scholars program aligns with the Center’s mission to foster research and dialogue that inform community knowledge and action. CSRCS Director Brian Pennington explained, “This new program expands the center’s commitment to promoting excellent undergraduate research on religion that can make a real impact not only on our students’ intellectual growth but also on the character of Elon’s relationship with its surrounding communities.”