Undergraduate Essay Contests & Scholarships


Deadline for receipt of all materials: 8am Monday, April 20, 2015. All papers must be digitally submitted to Abby Gitlitz agitlitz@indiana.edu.

The Bill Gallagher contest is the department's annual undergraduate student essay contest and is open to any undergraduate. The topic is open but should deal in some direct way with issues pertinent to the study of religion. Papers need not have been written for a religious studies course. Criteria on which the papers will be judged include clarity, focus, development of the subject or problem, use of evidence and sources, originality and creativity. While the paper must be academic it may use innovative and creative styles of writing. Undergraduate papers should be 10-20 double-spaced pages in length. For students: Please make sure your name, phone number, email address, and class standing are clearly indicated on the front page. Please number subsequent pages.

Minimum of 10 pages. Students who have shorter essays from their previous and current coursework are encouraged to expand those papers for submission.

First prize $500
Second prize $300
Third prize $200

2015 Winners:

1st place: Shelby Everett, "The How and Who of an Androcentric Tradition."

2nd place: Coy Hobson, "Red Cathedral: The Soviet Consecration of Red Square."

3rd place: Joelle Swatez, "Kol Sasson Congregation, Mobile Space, and Intentionality."



Deadline for receipt of all materials: 8am Monday, April 20, 2015. All papers must be digitally submitted to Abby Gitlitz agitlitz@indiana.edu.

Awarded in Spring, on the basis of the best Honors Essay written for R499 in the current academic year.

2015 Winner: Rafal Swiatkowski, "Stories of the Unique: The Narrative Nature of Human Identity."



Fall 2014 - Deadline for receipt of all materials: 5pm Friday, October 31

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.

To apply: A student must have declared a major in Religious Studies (double- and triple-majors are also eligible). A copy of the student’s transcript should be sent to Rick Nance, rfnance@indiana.edu, together with a letter of application that incorporates a 500-700 word personal statement regarding the student’s academic interest in the study of religion. The student should also provide the name of a departmental faculty member who could serve as a reference; soliciting a recommendation letter is not necessary. All application materials must be received by October 31; applications will be assessed by members of the Undergraduate Committee.

The award is named after Mary Jo Weaver who taught in the department from 1975-2006. She was dedicated to her students and continually worked to find new approaches to peak their interest in religious studies, making use of devices such as Star Trek episodes to encourage students to delve into more esoteric works like Freud, Marx and Geertz.


Spring 2015 - Deadline for receipt of all materials: 5pm Friday, May 1

Awarded in the fall and the spring, on the basis of the best thesis prospectus, drafted in the first semester (R399), that outlines the research project to be completed. To be eligible, the prospectus must be submitted by the final class day of the semester. The prize is $100 toward research expenses in the second semester (R499). Research expenses are to be approved by the student’s thesis advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Please submit your prospectus to Abby Gitlitz, agitlitz@indiana.edu. For more information contact Professor Richard Nance, Director of Undergraduate Studies at rfnance@indiana.edu.