carved wooden doorWhat can I do with a Religious Studies Degree?

One of the strengths of a religious studies degree is its ability to provide broad critical formation and an invaluable perspective on the contemporary world. A religious studies degree assists with the development of critical and analytic abilities, strong textual criticism skills, an intercultural understanding of both historical and contemporary religious practice and, the role religion continues to play in people’s daily lives.

Graduates in Religious Studies have gone on to use their degrees in an astonishing variety of ways. They have used their studies as base preparation for further careers as policy analysts, researchers, journalists, multicultural consultants, humanitarian relief workers, ethics consultants, lobbyists, museum curators, librarians, ministers or theologians, diplomats, social workers, and international student advisors.

Take a look at what some of the religious studies graduates from Mount Allison have done since graduating.

 

Hilary Evans
Class of ’15 - White Rock, BC - BA Major in Psychology, Minor in Religious Studies

While at Mount Alison I took a wide variety of religious studies courses including courses on the Bible, theory and methods of religious thought, and courses on eastern and Asian religions. I took a real interest in Eastern Religions, and was lucky enough to spend a summer in India continuing my studies with a small group from Mount A. After my time studying at Mount A I continued my studies at Trinity Western University in BC. Currently I have been accepted into a Masters program in Counselling Psychology. I have been fortunate enough to be successful in my academic pursuits in psychology and welcomed onto international honours societies. Part of the reason I believe this was possible for me was because of my strong interdisciplinary background from Mount Allison, especially in the religious studies department. Studying religion helps individuals learn about people and culture. If I had to tell people one thing about studying religious studies it would be that it is very applicable to many different disciplines. When you graduate with a major or minor in religious studies you also gain understanding in History, Geography, English, Anthropology, and more because of the nature of the discipline. It will help you whether you are pursuing medicine, law, or business. I know that it has given me an edge in my passion of clinical psychology.

 

Emily Iannucci
Class of ’14 - Toronto ON - BA Honours in Religious Studies, Minor in Sociology

I studied Asia religion, with a focus on Buddhism. I was particularly interested in Buddhism in North America. My thesis was about the perceptions of Buddhism as a peaceful religion in North America. The Religious Studies department taught me to think critically. I learned to read and to write and I think I'm prepared for any number of career paths because of my experience in the department. I plan on pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work.

Corrin Bulmer
Class of ’14 - Vancouver, BC - BA Honours in Religious Studies, Major in History

During my time at MTA the Religious Studies Department became a central part of my life. I was a teaching assistant for various courses, did research for some of my professors, thoroughly enjoyed the papers I worked on and developed lifelong friendships with my teachers as well as my fellow students. My academic focus was the religious practice in the contemporary period in Canada and in East Asia. My thesis topic was a case study of how to read a videogame as a religious text, while exploring the act of play as transcendence and discussing how the re-writing of code contributes to the argument that texts are living, ever-changing things. Since graduation I have taken a year off to work in Vancouver in various part-time capacities as I searched for a graduate program that would be a proper continuation of my time at MTA. I also spent over a month in South East Asia traveling with a fellow alumni and having an amazing time. One can never look at too many buddhas. In September I will start at UBC’s brand new Masters of Public Policy and Global Affairs. My degree in Religious Studies has prepared me to never accept the existence of a single truth and to value alternative perspectives as more than something to augment my own. If you want to do work at the global level then it is valuable to accept that what it means to be human is informed by world views, which for most of the world are partially constructed by religion.

Lucas Cober
Class of ’14 - Sackville NB - BA Honours Religious Studies

My focus in my time at MTA was in the area of biblical studies, with specific interest in how minorities and marginalized persons and populations are represented in the Bible, and my thesis topic was the narrative use of children as characters in the Bible. Since graduating in 2014, I've entered into the MA Program in Religious Studies at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, where I'm doing research looking into the use of blindness as a motif in the Bible and its impact on current opinion on disability. My experiences in the RS department at Mount Allison have been invaluable in my continuing education; much of what has been taught to me at the graduate level was things I'd already learned, or at least started on, at Mount Allison. More, the program at Mount Allison taught be how to look at things as a whole picture, rather than trying to understand something large like 'religion' in isolation. I've found this a valuable skill not just in my academic work, but also in my daily life.

 

Oudai Altabba
Class of ’13 - Damascus, Syria - BA Religious Studies, Minor in Canadian Studies

In my third and fourth year at MTA, I focused on post-secularization theory and topics of contemporary issues in religion. Such topics made an impact on me because I was able to think more critically about current world issues in politics and governance in the West and Middle East. I also was very interested in discovering the origins of the Quran. I wrote a paper discussing who, when, and where was the Quran authored and who the key figures responsible for it were. This topic hasn't been discussed as much in scholarship and I was very happy exploring it. After graduating, I worked as a Recruitment Officer for a private English school in Halifax called East Coast School of Languages. I was responsible for increasing student numbers from selected markets and developing partnerships with international agents. In March 2014, I moved to working as a Play Development Executive or (Executive Host in Casino terms) at Casino Nova Scotia. I develop relationships with VIP players and take care of their needs (such as hotels, entertainment, VIP show tickets, artist meet and greet etc), manage VIP events, market VIP promotions, and assist with increasing Casino's overall revenue. What I gained from being a Religious Studies student was the ability to have excellent presentation skills and critical thinking that can be put into any area. Although I was learning about religion, I was also gaining skills in understanding and influencing people, researching, and being constantly challenged with new tasks and assignments. All these skills helped in a lot with marketing and relationship management fields. When my friends ask me, I call it the versatile degree!

 

 Peter Welband portrait3Peter Wellband
Class of ’13 - Sackville NB - BA Double Major in Anthropology and Religious Studies

My focus while in the religious studies department was mostly in Eastern traditions. I was really drawn to Buddhism and Hinduism and grew to appreciate many things about each tradition. Since graduating I have been spending my summers treeplanting and teaching yoga during the fall and winter. My degree really helped to inform my worldview and I approach yoga with a strong love for the texts and philosophy as well as the physical expression of the practice. I think what I studied in school has helped more complex ideas within yoga sink in more easily.

 

 

Stacy Coombs
Class of ’12 - St. Andrews NB - BA Major in Religious Studies, Minor in Psychology

My focus while in the Religious Studies department was Eastern Religions. After graduation from MTA, I worked at the Cumberland YMCA for two years before returning back to school in the fall of 2014. I graduated with a diploma in Therapeutic Recreation from the NSCC-Waterfront Campus (Dartmouth, NS) in June 2015. I will be pursuing a BSC of Therapeutic Recreation at Dalhousie University in the fall of 2015. While studying at NSCC I was able to complete volunteer and work experiences in Long Term Care. Working with seniors has been my passion since working as a Home Care Worker with the Canadian Red Cross while studying at MTA. Having a background in Religious Studies has made me sensitive and appreciative of the spiritual needs and practices of seniors. I had a wonderful experience of working with retired Nuns and listening to their stories. I found this incredibly rewarding and might not have identified the importance of their dedication and service were it not for my Religious Studies background. I was able to study all the major world religions which has made me sensitive to different religious beliefs, spiritual needs, and conflicts. Religion remains a foundational component in the lives of millions of people. My understanding of religious history and practices has allowed me to build meaningful relationships with the people I work for especially because spirituality is often emphasized at the end of a person's life.  As a Therapeutic Recreation professional, I am able to identify and address the spiritual needs of the people I work with and design and implement recreation and leisure interventions that will help them meet their goals.

 

Evan Scully
Class of ’12 - Rexton, NB - BA Commerce, Minor in Religious Studies

Since graduating from Mount Allison, I’ve earned a post graduate certificate in Sport Business Management, and currently work as an Event Manager at the Canadian Tire Centre (Home of the Ottawa Senators), and Catering Manager at Stonebridge Golf Course in Ottawa, On.  A little background on me - I am possibly the most non-religious person you would ever meet. I work hard, play harder. You’d be hard pressed to find me in a church, or any other religious building. When I started at MTA I never thought I would have taken a Religious Studies course, let alone end up with a Minor in the area. My experience within the Religious Studies Department at MTA was excellent, to say the least. It not only helped me to improve my understanding of the ways of life and moral/ethical/spiritual differences within different cultures, but also helped me to open my mind to new ways of thinking. In my career, which clearly has nothing to do with my Religious Studies background (right?), I’ve used the knowledge/wisdom I gained through my studies in many areas including conflict management, managing organizational change, and, even, the analysis of day-to-day operations. In my personal life, my studies lead me to hold a broader view of myself and the world than I held previously – personal development is always a plus. It's really hard to express in words the gratitude I feel now for that growth.

 

Miriam Lapp
Class of ’12 - Sackville NB – BA Honours in Religious Studies

As a bit of back story, my first experience with Mt. A’s Religious Studies Department was actually in Grade 12. Tantramar Regional High School offers the Tantramar Advantage program, allowing Grade 12 students to enrol in a Mt. A course. I chose RELG 1661: Religion and Popular Culture, taught by Dr. Andrew Wilson. After my second year at King’s/ Dal in Halifax followed by an exploratory gap year, I chose to return to Mt. A with the ultimate goal of finishing my BA in Religious Studies, and to write a thesis with Dr. Wilson as my advisor. I achieved my goal, graduating with Honours in Religious Studies and writing a thesis entitled Lady Gaga’s “Religion of the Insecure”: The Hyperreal Religion of the Little Monsters. My thesis explored fan-worship and the cult-like following exhibited by Lady Gaga’s fans, as analyzed using Baudrillard’s theory of the hyperreal. Since graduation, I moved to Toronto and worked in retail for a year, and moved back to Sackville just before the birth of my daughter in 2013. I am now in the third semester of my Master’s Degree in Integrated Studies with a focus in Cultural Studies, which I am pursuing by correspondence through Athabasca University. The critical skills and insights learned in Mount Allison’s Religious Studies Department stay with me, changing the way I interact with the world at large. Be it having the vocabulary to engage in discussions about politics and world issues or having the eye to recognize the influence of religious artefacts in almost any setting, Religious Studies is an enriching, enlightening, and entirely relevant course option.

 

Christina Fry
Class of ’09 - Moncton NB - BA Honours in Classics, Minor in Religious Studies

I came to Mount A as a transfer student from UNB, mostly because of the Religious Studies department's joint courses with Classics, since I was especially interested in exploring ancient Judaism and Christian origins. When I saw Mount A offered "Christianity in the Roman Empire" I was sold! I graduated Mount A and I went on to do my MA in the Classics and Religion department at the University of Calgary, with a focus on first century Judaism. Since 2008, I've been working professionally in archaeology, and in January of 2014, I started working as an archaeologist for a major engineering firm, doing archaeological impact assessments for large infrastructure projects. My training in Religious Studies was excellent preparation for my career as an archaeologist. Religious Studies taught me to see patterns in broad and complex sets of data, to be cautious of generalizations, and to approach those things you think you know for sure with fresh and critical eyes. Especially, I learned how narratives of history form personal and group identities, and thus to appreciate the emotional significance and power of those narratives, with which I'm continuously in dialogue while digging into the past.

 

Whitney Spencer
Class of ’09 - Halifax NS - BA Major in Religious Studies, Minor in History

After graduating I went to Dalhousie University to pursue a Masters of Library and Information Studies. Since graduating I've been working at schools in the Middle East as a librarian. It's been very interesting to see the things I learned in a classroom acted out in real life. Most people here are surprised by my undergrad degree, but it has certainly helped smooth away some issues I might have otherwise had!

 

Jamie Buis
Class of ’08 - North Delta BC - BA Double Major in Political Science and Religious Studies

My focus while studying religious studies was Christianity and my honours thesis was on a case study of Waco in regards to Apocalyptic Christian Groups and Law Enforcement. I am a police officer with the RCMP. My experiences at MTA have prepared me for a career where critical thinking, structured and researched writing, and problem solving all are done on a daily basis.

 

Alex Callahan
Class of ’07 - Toronto Canada - BA Honours in Religious Studies, Major in Political Science

My focus at MTA was on Jewish legal practice, Christianity, and popular culture. My thesis was about the background and interpretive origins of bat mitzvah ceremonies in conservative Judaism. Since graduating I’ve spent some time in the Yukon in a mining camp running heavy machines... this had almost nothing to do with my education. I spent a few years working for a crisis communication and lobbying firm called Navigator, and I'm currently a researcher in the Leader's Office of the Ontario NDP. Certainly my 1000 and 2000 level courses were helpful for understanding the culture and religious relevance of certain issues, turns of phrase, ideas etc. but my education hasn't had an especially direct impact on how I do my job. My major in Religious Studies is something that I believe shaped me, and certainly always gives me good fodder for dinner parties, but there isn't a clear 1 to 1 impact on my career. It has given me an appreciation of art, literature, commentary, cultural criticism that I wouldn't have without a good understanding of the Hebrew bible and New Testament. That's perhaps not what Dr. Black at all had in mind. 

 

 Henry ChenHenry Chen
Class of ’08 - Montreal QB - BA Geography, Minor in East Asian Studies

I have studied in Beijing, which led to an MA in Psychology in 2014. I also worked office jobs in Montreal and Hong Kong before and between studying there.  I have continued my mindfulness practice (which partly began with the extra-curricular activities that Dr. Clayton organized). Buddhist thought and its practice continues to inform my epistemology and therapeutic practice as I pursue my PhD in clinical psychology.

 Shoko KurodaShoko Kuroda
Class of ’08 - Kobe, Japan - BA International Relations, Minors in Religious Studies and Modern Chinese Studies

Having worked in the field of international development and served at the Embassy of Japan in Sudan for several years, I am now pursuing Master’s degree in Poverty and Development at Institute of Development Studies in the UK. For development practitioners, exposure to religiosity and being able to appreciate different belief system from your own can be a great asset. There are many examples of development projects that incorporate religious components to the efforts to promote people’s well-being in innovative manners, such as faith based approaches against the gender based violence. Also, even if you are not trying to utilize your knowledge of religiosity to your projects, development practitioners, especially those in the field, are required to deal with people who come from completely different back ground from your own. I think my experience at the religious studies development strengthened my ability to reflect on your bias and positionality, which I think is helping me develop me both as a development practitioner and as a person.