Elon students present undergraduate research at religious studies conference

Six students presented at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion held March 8-10 in Greenville, N.C.

Ten Elon students traveled to Greenville, North Carolina, March 8-10 for the annual meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR), the regional affiliate of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. Six of the students presented undergraduate research mentored by faculty from the Department of Religious Studies, while the other four observed in preparation for presenting in the future. 

Two of the student presenters have been mentored by Rebecca Todd Peters, professor of religious studies. Kristina Meyer presented research on the challenge of white Christian guilt in faith-based community organizing and Lindsay Jordan studied the contemporary Poor People’s Campaign, analyzing leadership among lower-income  communities in the struggle for social change. Jordan’s paper won the conference award for the Best Undergraduate Research Paper.

With her mentor Assistant Professor of Arts Administration David McGraw, Katherine Francisco looked at whether different groups of viewers took offense at the theatrical production "The Book of Mormon." Mentored by Professor of Religious Studies, Brian Pennington, Sophie Zinn’s research examined identity, religion, and secularism in Denmark. Mentored by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Amy Allocco, Styrling Rohr’s research looked at devotional music and religious experience in a North Carolina Sikh community. Finally, with her mentor Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Ariela Marcus-Sells, Brianna Elder presented her research on the mistranslation of Christianity in Africa.

During the conference, students were also able to learn about research conducted by professors and graduate students as well as undergraduate students at other colleges and universities throughout the Southeast.

Engaging in conversation with their peers from other institutions, students gained a better sense of the breadth of the field of religious studies while building networks for future cross-fertilization and collaboration. Many of these same students will also be presenting their research at Elon during the Student Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) on April 30.

The Elon contingent at SECSOR was organized by Senior Lecturer LD Russell. Also presenting at the conference was Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Andrew Monteith whose paper was titled, "Postmillennialist Understandings of Progress and Narcotics Reform in the Late Nineteenth and Earlier Twentieth Centuries."

Support for student travel was provided by the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Department of Religious Studies, the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society.