Student News


PhD candidate Andrew Monteith was awarded $500 grant by the The Devonia and Steve Stein Fund for the Study of American Religions to conduct archival research at the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. for his work on the religious aspects of the War on Drugs. Monteith says, "The religious dimensions of the War on Drugs have gone largely unexplored, yet religion lies at the heart of it. I propose to exhume, analyze, and explain the religious motivations that propelled the first wave of federal drug laws (1902-1922), which were pushed forward by Postmillennialist concerns."

Undergraduate Hannah Murray has been awarded a $500 Mary Jo Weaver Scholarship.
The Mary Jo Weaver Undergraduate Scholarship Program is intended to provide ongoing support for up to two years in the amount of $500 per year to one or two Religious Studies majors. Funds are available so long as the awardee continues to matriculate at IUB as a Religious Studies major and maintains a GPA of 3.5 in RS courses, and 3.0 overall. These awards are discretionary, and may not be awarded every year.


Indiana University Teams I and II made Ethics Bowl Regional history when they scored first and second in total points out of 24 teams from 14 colleges and universities at the Central States Regional Ethics Bowl hosted by Marian University in Indianapolis

The IU teams debated the ethical issues involved in Haiti's demand for reparations following the introduction of cholera by peacekeepers; prominent feminist website Jezebel's posting of a bounty for un-retouched photos of celebrity Lena Dunham; the use of public shaming as punishment; and more.

Based on the two teams’ scores, Indiana University was named the Regional first place winner and will be one of four Central States schools to select and send a single team to the National Ethics Bowl in 2015. The National Ethics Bowl competition is hosted by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, in conjunction with its Annual Meeting. It will take place on February 22nd in Costa Mesa, California.

The Ethics Bowl format, while competitive, is unique in its emphasis on civil dialogue and substantive ethical analysis of real-world issues. IU Ethics Bowl alumni have gone on to prestigious careers in government, business, law, and education, and consistently rank the Ethics Bowl experience as one of the most important and enjoyable experiences in their undergraduate career. The skills students develop in analysis, moral reasoning, and engaging with differing views continue to serve them throughout their lives and careers.

The Indiana University Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions has sponsored a single team of 4-6 students since 2001. This year, for the first time ever, the Center decided to sponsor two IU teams to allow more students to participate in the Ethics Bowl experience. Grant Manon, a senior in Finance, Political Science, and Economics, in his fourth year on the team, provided an experienced perspective, while the remaining six students were all new to the competition:

Ethics Bowl
Pictured above L to R are Agarwal, Goldsmith, Swiatkowski, and Henke

The Head Ethics Bowl Coach is Joe Bartzel, a PhD student in the Department of Religious Studies. Contact him at Emma Young, Poynter Center Program Manager, a four-year IU Ethics Bowl alumna, serves as assistant coach and team coordinator. Contact her at Click here to learn more about the APPE International Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl program, and about IU’s involvement on the Poynter Center website. Read more about this year’s teams and their preparation for competition in a story by the Media School, which houses the Poynter Center.

-Emma Young


Graduate Student news


York Minster
York Minster

April 2014- Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger was accepted to a NEH specialist seminar on “Art, Architecture, and devotion in the later Middle Ages” that meets in York, England. Her four week seminar will include site visits to some of the most stunning churches in central England.



Two Religious Studies graduate students are among the three students on campus who have been awarded travel grants through Dhar India Studies Felix G. Ilarraz Memorial Fund.

Ashlee Andrews (PhD student, Religious Studies): will travel to Kolkata this summer to conduct interviews with Hindu women about their food rituals. The title of her project is: "Cooking the Home: Gastronomic Rituals of Bengali Hindu Women in Kolkata and the American Diaspora."

Kristin Francoeur (PhD student, Religious Studies): will travel to Delhi and Lucknow in September to conduct interview-based research with participants and organizers of gender-related NGOs and development aid workers. The title of her project is: “Toward a Re-Evaluation of Gender and Empowerment in ‘Development’: The Impact of Religion on North Indian NGOs.”



Photo of Kristin Francoeur
Kristin Francoeur

PhD candidate Kristin Francoeur has been selected to receive a Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration Graduate Dissertation Fellowship. The selection committee was impressed with her project and its prospects for success and recommended that the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President grant this award.


Undergraduate student news


Photo Shelby Everett
Shelby Everett and Professor Constance Furey

Shelby Everett was one of five students at the Bloomington campus to be awarded the 2013-2014 Excellence in Service-Learning Student Award. Shelby was nominated for the work she did in a service-learning course of her own design, on “Activism in Theory and Practice.” Shelby is a Religious Studies major as well as a dedicated social activist herself, and the course she developed included a rigorous reading list of work about secular and religiously-inspired social activism as well as an outreach effort designed in cooperation with Fair Trade Bloomington, focused on getting area churches to adopt a policy endorsing the use of Fair Trade Coffee for all of their events.

What is extraordinary about Shelby’s work is that she demonstrated the value of combining thought and action. Shelby is a worthy recipient because she was effective in the short term while also preparing herself to be an inspiring and effective activist in the long term, recognizing that commitment requires deep and profound engagement with the ideas as well as the examples provided by others working toward similar goals.

Sarah Babb, David Bloom, Harini Garram, Hannah Garvey, Nolan Hart, Rafal Swiatkowski and Victoria Eder have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK) for the 2013-2014 academic year.



essay art

Undergraduate Gallagher essay contest:

Undergraduate honors thesis:

Graduate essay contest:


Sideris meets with URSA
Professor Sideris meets with URSA

On a rainy Thursday evening following a day of classes and homework, a group of IU students from a variety of majors gathered around a large table in Woodburn Hall to participate in an academic discussion at an URSA event entitled “From Myth to Myth: The Transition From Religion to Science.” The event sought to engage students with the subject matter of Professor Lisa Sideris’ current research project, which focuses on mythopoetic scientific creation narratives that go by various names such as The New Story, The Journey of the Universe, or the Epic of Evolution. Proponents of these narratives argue that the traditional, religious stories that have informed human society can no longer fulfill their intended function of inspiring wonder and orienting humans in their relation to the universe; therefore, they claim, new stories grounded in contemporary scientific knowledge are needed in order to overcome current predicaments such as intolerance, conflict, and impending environmental catastrophe.

Informed by reading a selection of articles and brief lecture provided by Professor Sideris, the discussion group engaged in a spirited debate that examined the New Story’s underlying logic as well as the proposed outcomes of its implication. Of particular interest were the questions of whether replacement of religious myths would lead to the outcomes that New Story proponents advocate, whether a scientific myth would be accessible to all members of society, and whether a univocal scientific narrative is feasible. The New Story came under heavy fire when the group began to scrutinize the assumptions underlying the need for the new story, including the premise that contemporary society hovers in a place between cultural narratives and that diversity of belief has caused the dilemmas facing the globe. The scope of the discussion reflected the interdisciplinary background of the attending students, resulting in consideration of fact and opinion from diverse academic perspectives. As at the end of any good debate, the discussion group walked away from the event feeling far more informed, but brimming with an even greater number of questions.

-Rafal Swiatkowski




Photo of Diane Fruchtman
Diane Fruchtman

Diane was awarded an American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The American Fellowships, AAUW’s oldest and largest funding program, support women scholars who are completing doctoral dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research, or finishing research for publication. “The American Fellowship program affords scholars the ability to become leading thinkers in their fields and have an impact across multiple disciplines. It’s also a recognition of their great potential because they are receiving support from one of the nation’s most respected women’s organizations,” said Gloria Blackwell, AAUW vice president of fellowships, grants, and international programs. The AAUW (online at is one of the world’s leading supporters of graduate women’s education, having awarded nearly $100 million in fellowships, grants, and awards to more than 12,000 women. Diane feels extremely honored to have been selected to join their ranks, and will use her American Fellowship to fund her final year of dissertation-writing.

Diane's paper, "Paulinus and the Living Martyr: Making Martyrs in the Nolan Countryside,” won a "NAPS Outstanding Student Paper Prize" at the North American Patristics Society annual meeting in Chicago in May. The paper, which represents an argument from Diane's dissertation, explores the way that Paulinus of Nola (353-431) depicted St. Felix as a martyr despite the saint's death in peaceful old age, long after the threat of persecution had passed. She argues that Paulinus' treatment of Felix as a martyr is not only central to Paulinus' own spirituality, but also to his hopes for other Christians: Paulinus hoped to make martyrdom accessible to his contemporaries by offering Felix as a role model, making it possible for them to become martyrs, too.


Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Diane Fruchtman who received the 2013 Andrea S. McRobbie Graduate Fellowship in Medieval History from the Medieval Studies Institute on September 15. The fellowship was established by the McRobbie family in 2007 in memory of the late Andrea McRobbie, who had a great interest in medieval history. The award is intended to support an advanced graduate student engaged in scholarship in medieval history, specifically some aspect of its social history or some theme in medieval social history related to its art, philosophy or literature. More information about the award can be found at Inside IU Bloomington.



sarah dees
Sarah Dees

April 2013 - Congratulations to Sarah Dees, Religious Studies doctoral student, on her receipt of the Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award for distinguished teaching. Read the press release



Photo of Syifa Widigdo
Syifa Widigdo

Syifa Widigdo attended International Institute of Islamic Thought Summer Student Program 2013 from May 27-July 3, 2013 in Herndon, Virginia this summer. At the end of the program he was awarded the "IIIT Research Fellowship Award 2013." This award will provide funds for him to participate in some academic conferences and write a research paper that will be published in the end of 2014.



Photo of Will Smith
Will Smith

April 2013 - We are delighted to announce that AlumniWill Smith was awarded 2013 Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences Advisor of the Year Award. According to Will, he was " excited to receive this unexpected honor. I'm glad that students find my work so helpful." Please join us in congratulating Will on this well-deserved award!