Elon students present research at annual religious studies conference

Five Elon undergraduates speak at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion in Athens, GA, one takes best paper prize.

Twelve Elon students and three faculty members spent the Feb. 28 weekend in Athens, Georgia, at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) conference, hosted by the University of Georgia. A regional affiliate of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature, the conference allows students and professional scholars to present research and discuss religious studies with colleagues from other institutions.

Five Elon students presented at SECSOR, each mentored by Department of Religious Studies faculty. Marjorie Anne Foster ’20 won the conference award for Best Undergraduate Research Paper with her topic, “Negotiating Islamophobia: The Experiences of College-Age Muslims in North Carolina,” which she produced with her mentors, Associate Professors Amy Allocco and Glenn Scott. Elon students have taken the top honor at SECSOR in three of the last four years: Lindsay Jordan ’19 received the same award in 2019, and Brianna Birchett ‘17 in 2017.

Award winner for Best Undergraduate Research Paper Marjorie Anne Foster with her mentor, Dr. Amy Allocco.

Allocco mentored two other students’ research. Kathryn Gerry ’20 presented “There is Not a Thing Like Religion or Caste between Migrants: Navigating Multireligious Landscapes in Kerala and the Gulf.” Co-mentored by Allocco and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society Brian Pennington, Katie Hooker ’20 examined religious and cultural identities in Miami’s Haitian community.

With guidance from her mentor, Professor Rebecca Todd Peters, Lucy Jones ’20 presented “Abortion and Christianity: How the Religious Right Chipped Away at Mainline Denominations.” Finally, Hannah Thorpe ’20 studied Jewish responses to white nationalism movements with the help of mentor Associate Professor Geoffrey Claussen, chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

Peters also presented her own work at SECSOR in a paper titled “Rethinking Moral Wisdom: Listening to Women Who End Pregnancies.”

Many of these students will be presenting their research at Elon’s Student Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) on April 28.

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