Elon names fourth class of Multifaith Scholars

Through a two-year fellows program, the five members of the Class of 2022 who are part of this interdisciplinary cohort will participate in specialized coursework, faculty-mentored undergraduate research, campus leadership and community engagement in multifaith contexts.

Five members of the Class of 2022 have been named members of the fourth cohort of Multifaith Scholars.

After a highly selective application and interview process, students of this interdisciplinary program will be awarded $5,000 annually to support research and study in global contexts connected with religious diversity and multifaith societies. Multifaith Scholars, a two-year fellows program for juniors and seniors, offers a closely mentored, experientially rich, and intellectually rigorous, educational opportunity for cohort members. Students who show great potential as academically curious and socially engaged multifaith leaders committed to their own ongoing development and the enhancement of their local and global communities are selected in the spring of their second year at Elon.

Amy Allocco, associate professor of Religious Studies, has directed the Multifaith Scholars program since it was established in 2016. She notes that this year’s class is highly interdisciplinary and brings diverse talents, skills, and experiences to the program. “The selection committee was extremely impressed with each Scholar’s research ideas, passion for learning across difference, and interest in community engagement,” Allocco said. “Their proposed undergraduate research projects promise to advance their intellectual development and personal growth and to make significant contributions within and beyond our campus community.”

The 2020-21 Multifaith Scholars

JoyceLyn Bentley

Major: Cinema and Television Arts

Minor: Interreligious 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.

Katie Grant

Katie Grant

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.

Hallie Milstein

Hallie Milstein

Major: Journalism

Minors: Professional Writing Studies, Interreligious 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.

Alaa Suleiman

Alaa Suleiman

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.

Emily Wilbourne

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.

These students join members of the two current classes of Multifaith Scholars who have spent the year engaged in undergraduate research, study abroad experiences, development of scholarly publications, and presentations at academic conferences. The program is preparing to celebrate the exceptional work of the seniors from the second cohort.

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Marjorie Anne Foster, Kathryn Gerry, Katie Hooker, Hannah Thorpe and Sonya Walker have all produced outstanding research projects analyzing multifaith topics from Islamophobia in the airline industry to Jewish responses to White nationalist movements to Haitian religion and identity in diaspora contexts. These members of the Class of 2020 are poised to bring their rich research experiences, intercultural learning, self-awareness, interpersonal dexterity, and leadership skills to graduate programs, jobs, language study, service and research opportunities across the globe.

In March, a symposium celebrating the conclusion of the Arthur Vining Davis grant funding marked the successes of the program’s first three years with a panel of scholars presenting on interreligious research, teaching and mentoring. Elon University has now assumed all funding for the program, which is administered through its Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society.

More information about the Multifaith Scholars program can be found on the the center’s website at https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/csrcs/multifaith-scholars/.