Beginning in the summer of 2018, the Department of Religious Studies will offer competitive fellowships of up to $3,000 in support of summer projects undertaken by majors or minors in Religious Studies. As many as two fellowships will be offered every summer. The primary aim of this program is to help students gain pre-professional or advanced academic research experience without losing summer employment income.
This program is made possible by generous support from the Reisacher Family Endowment Fund for Religion, which aims “to provide support for undergraduate students pursuing a major or minor in religion who demonstrate excellence in the academic study of religion.”
To be eligible to apply, you must be a full-time student with a declared major or minor in Religious Studies. Time and experience in the program will be taken into consideration as part of the application process.
Possible projects include directed research (e.g., with a faculty member), independent research (but not undertaken for academic credit), unpaid internships with academic institutions (publishers, research centers, etc.), and unpaid internships with nonprofit organizations. Whatever the project, your work must include an explicit focus on the academic study of religion. That focus should be very clear in the application essay and the final report, especially when it is not explicitly evident in the activity itself (e.g., in some internships).
The first half of the funds will be disbursed as a stipend at the beginning of the project, and the second half will be disbursed in the same way upon the project’s successful completion, which will include a final report (see below). At the end of the tax year, fellows will receive an IRS Form 1099 for the amount received. Keeping careful records of project expenses will minimize or eliminate the need to pay any income taxes on the funds.
Upon completion of the project, submit a final report to the Department of Religious Studies that includes the following details:
Provide a detailed description of the how your project progressed, including start and end dates, how you spent your time from day to day or week to week, and major outcomes of your work. Also discuss the process of the project. What particular challenges did you face? How, if at all, did the project change from your original plans as proposed in your application?
Relate your project specifically to your coursework in the academic study of religion. What aspects of your work in the classroom spoke to your work on the summer project? In some cases, such as research projects, these connections may be very obvious. In other cases, such as internships, this will be an opportunity to make connections to religious studies by applying theories, methods, and issues in the academic study of religion to your experiences “on the ground.”
How did this experience inform your future plans? What did you learn about what you might want to pursue — or not pursue — after graduation from college? What strengths did you discover in yourself in the process? What new interests emerged?