Elon welcomes eighth class of Multifaith Scholars

Through a two-year fellows program, the five 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 have been named members of the eighth 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 multi-religious 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.

Sandy Marshall, an associate professor of geography, served as interim director of the Multifaith Scholars program this year while Professor Amy Allocco has been on a Fulbright-funded research sabbatical in India. “We had an exceptionally strong applicant pool, and I am excited about the diversity of backgrounds and research interests represented in this new cohort,” Marshall said. “Their topics span a range of time periods and regions, including Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Likewise, their proposed research combines diverse interdisciplinary perspectives from history and politics, to computer science and theatrical design. We are excited to work with these students and their mentors over the next two years to facilitate their scholarly development and personal growth.”

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 the 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 2024-26 Multifaith Scholars:

Alyssa Carney

Majors: International and Global

Studies / History

Minors: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics / Geography / Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Sandy Marshall (Geography)

Project Title: Echoes of Al-Andalus: Islamophobia and Migration in Spain

Proposed Research: Carney’s research will examine the lived experience of Muslim Arab migrants in Spain and the contested memories of Islamic Spain and the Spanish Reconquista within the context of growing right-wing populism.

Owen Hayes

Major: History

Minors: Political Science / Interreligious


Mentor: Brian Pennington (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Catholic Missionaries and Indigenous Peoples of Australia

Proposed Research: Using archival research and interviews, Hayes will examine contentious encounters between Catholic missionaries in Australia and Aboriginal peoples.

Hasan Khan

Major: Computer Science

Minors: Data Science / Leadership Studies / Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Pratheep Paranthaman (Computer Science)

Project Title: Exploring Multifaith Engagement through Video Game Representation

Proposed Research: Based on visual and narrative analysis of popular video games as well as interviews with gamers themselves, Khan’s research aims to critically examine depictions of religion in video games with the goal of producing guidelines for game designers to improve religious representation.

Olivia Novak

Majors: Religious Studies / Theatrical Design

Minor: Entrepreneurship

Mentor: Toddie Peters (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Abortion in Context: Historical Influences on 21st Century Abortion Discourse

Proposed Research: Novak’s research will examine the historical roots and religious discourses that influence today’s political debates about abortion and reproductive rights. With the goal of producing traditional scholarly outputs as well as a theatrical performance to share her research.

Jesse White

Major: Religious Studies / International and Global Studies (Middle East and Africa concentrations)

Minor: Islamic Studies

Mentors: Waseem Kasim (History) and Mussa Idris (Anthropology)

Project Title: Mahdism and Sudanese: History and Memory of an Islamic Movement in North America’s Diasporic Sudanese Communities

Proposed Research: White’s research combines historical textual analysis of archival resources with ethnographic research with Sudanese diaspora communities to examine the history of the Mahdi revolt, the role of Sufism therein, and how it is remembered today in light of contemporary politics and conflict in Sudan.