Through a two-year fellows program, the six students in this multidisciplinary cohort will undertake mentored undergraduate research projects, enroll in specialized coursework and engage in community-based learning with diverse religious communities.
Five rising juniors and one rising senior have been named members of the seventh class of Multifaith Scholars, a two-year fellows program for juniors and seniors that offers a closely mentored, experientially rich and intellectually rigorous educational opportunity for students with significant potential.
After a highly selective application and interview process, students are awarded $5,000 annually to support research and study in global contexts connected with religious diversity and multireligious societies. Students who show great potential as academically curious and socially engaged leaders committed to their own ongoing development and the enhancement of their local and global communities are selected each Spring.
Amy Allocco, an associate professor of religious studies, has directed the Multifaith Scholars program since it was established in 2016. She notes that this year’s class brings additional strength and disciplinary diversity to the cohort.
“We are thrilled to welcome members of this new class, whose proposed projects are creative, deeply interdisciplinary, and timely. Among the unique topics represented is a project focusing on best practices in teaching religious literacy to health care professionals, another that will integrate insights from religious studies and neuroscience to explore Tibetan Buddhist practices as a resource for mental health and wellness, and a documentary project that will bring together vampire folklore, religion, and pop culture to analyze how non-Christian ‘others’ are represented in literature, film, and TV,” Allocco said. She has also expressed excitement about the opportunity to collaborate with six faculty mentors who are working with the Multifaith Scholars program for the first time.
In addition to pursuing their faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects and undertaking academic coursework in Religious Studies and Interreligious Studies, the scholars will extend the program’s ongoing community partnership with the Burlington Masjid. Through partnership, scholars participate in youth and social events with the local Muslim community, join community garden workdays, volunteer with the food pantry, and take part in potlucks and iftar meals during Ramadan.
The 2023-25 Multifaith Scholars:
Minors: Neuroscience, Interreligious Studies
Mentor: Pamela Winfield (Religious Studies)
Project Title: Bridging West & East: An Alternative for Emotional Regulation
Proposed Research: Sandoh’s project will assess how Tibetan Buddhist subtle body schemes may be paired with the neurobiological systems of Euro-American biomedical science to 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: Kiara’s project will analyze divergences in spirituality, faith practices, and traditions of Generation X (1965-1979) and Generation Z (1995-2012) with special attention to social media’s influence on Generation Z.
Minor: Interreligious Studies
Mentor: Jeanmarie Koonts (Nursing)
Project Title: How Elon Nursing Teaches Spirituality and Religion
Proposed Research: Grace’s project will survey the ways that spirituality and religion are being taught in medical schools and nursing programs and produce a white paper with recommendations for teaching religious literacy to healthcare practitioners.
Jasper Serenity Myers
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: Jasper’s project will investigate the socio-religious-political contexts of Greek Sapphic identity and the Roman tribas (women attracted to other women), with a focus on ancient mythological, religious, and 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: Kaelyn’s project will identify religious sentiments and symbols in vampiric media over time to understand how representations of the vampire in literature, film, and TV reflect Christian concerns with a demonic “other” that can manifest as xenophobia, homophobia, and antisemitism.
Majors: Political Science, International & Global Studies
Minors: 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: Hunter’s project will measure the extent to which religious identity and political identity influence environmental values and voting behaviors among American Jews, Christians, and Muslims.