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Religious Studies

Your courses will provide perspectives on many of the world's religious traditions. Research will be a crucial part of your work, and the interdisciplinary program presents an array of options.


Hannah O'Connell '14 participates in a religious studies seminar in Benedict Hall.

A student goes deeper: meeting communities

In her summer research, Hannah Grace O’Connell ’14 met Karen refugees from Burma who are becoming part of a Baptist congregation and Bosnian Muslims who established a mosque in a converted Methodist church. The project complemented O’Connell’s religious studies coursework and took her deeper. “We’re always getting to see how these religious traditions are actually enacted, so this was just one step closer to reality. This was actually getting to see these churches, getting to visit these places,” she says.

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The team project –  Religious Spaces in Transition – was funded by the Levitt Research Group grant program at Hamilton College. O’Connell was wearing her religious studies hat; her other major is sociology.

The Levitt experience, she says, will be an advantage when she goes to grad school. But first she is eager to use what she’s learned in college in the real world. She’s hoping work experience will help her decide which route to take in grad school – religious studies or sociology. She nurtures hopes of finding a school where she can combine her passions, as she has been able to do at Hamilton.


Billy Ford '10 in Malaysia.

A graduate’s progress: promoting global freedom

An interest in Vietnamese Buddhism drew Billy Ford ’10 to Vietnam to study his junior year at Hamilton College, and the experience set him on his career path. He now works at Freedom House, which describes itself as an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world.

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“My time in Vietnam drastically changed my professional trajectory and opened up an entirely new area of interest for me – the human right to religious freedom,” says Ford, who majored in religious studies.

He won a Fulbright scholarship to live and teach in the conservative Muslim province of Terengganu, Malaysia. Then Ford landed an internship at Freedom House, where he worked his way up. He is program manager on the Southeast Asia team and oversees a legal reform project in Burma, liaises with the State Department and other bilateral governments and develops and pitches project proposals.

“So, within a year of joining Freedom House I had been promoted three times, and I can say with confidence that I had been promoted in large part because I manifest the ability to write well and speak with confidence – an ability that I developed as a religious studies major at Hamilton,” Ford says.