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Parents, friends, faculty, and academic advisors gathered on April 25 to celebrate the accomplishments of students honored at Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s annual awards lunch.
The event recognized a range of student achievements: fellows who completed the Undergraduate Research Program; winners of the “Friends of the Center” research scholarship; and undergraduates who earned a Certificate in Religion and Conflict.
Yasmin Saikia, Center acting director and Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, served as the ceremony’s emcee and began the event with a warm welcome to incoming students who will participate in next year’s cohort, as well as students who are celebrating the completion of a program.
“Our student programs foster intellectual exchange and collaboration, and they support independent research—both of these efforts are embedded in the heart of the Center’s work,” said Saikia.
“We look forward to this event each year because it gives us the opportunity to meet students who are just starting their studies at the Center, and also to reunite groups that we’ve spent time with as they wrap up their work,” Saikia continued. “So whether you’re feeling eager or accomplished, we are pleased by the opportunity to work with you.”
“This event also provides an occasion to recognize the contributions other people make in the life of the Center throughout the year.”
“From our students and their families, to the academic and faculty advisors who support them, to the Friends of the Center—the donors whose generous support make these programs possible. Every award or fellowship recognized today is made possible by individuals in the community who are personally committed to advancing the research and education mission of the Center. We are all deeply grateful.”
First to be recognized were students who completed the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program. Students in the program take a special class with the Center’s director, John Carlson; meet with visiting scholars and practitioners, such as journalists Daniel Burke (CNN) and Anand Gopal (The New Yorker); and assist faculty in cutting edge research on the sources and dynamics of religion and conflict.
The program is open to students from any major, and this year’s group included students in global studies, psychology, economics, biological studies, political science, and religious studies.
“The seminar provides a unique opportunity for a diverse cohort of students, competitively selected from various majors, to explore the role of religion as it influences today’s most pressing issues,” said Carlson.
“We update the curriculum each year to ensure that the content presented in the course is relevant to students,” he continues, “Our hope in this program is to prepare students as they step into a complex world.”
This year, students explored the relationship of religion and violence; the configuration of religion and the secular; and the intersections among religion, national identity, and race in American life. They also critically examined the notion that religion is a source of conflict, as well as considered the ways that religion fosters social change and peace.
Students recognized for completing the fellows program this past year:
The centerpiece of the awards program are the winners of the Friends of the Center research awards. This award confers students — undergraduate and graduate — scholarships of up to $2,500 to pursue independent research on religion and conflict for their theses or dissertations, or to participate in peacebuilding programs overseas.
This summer, the 2019 winners will be conducting research in Iran, Korea, Italy, Ghana, Chicago, Serbia and Bosnia, and the Czech Republic.
The Center awarded eight scholarships this year: three to graduate students and five to undergraduate students:
Other recipients of the Friends of the Center research awards were graduate students.
The final part of the program featured students who earned an Undergraduate Certificate in Religion and Conflict. Similar to the fellow’s program, students from any major can earn a certificate by completing 18 credits of coursework studying regional, political, and cultural components of religion, conflict, and peace.
Since the program began 11 years ago, over 120 students have earned the certificate, and there 5 who earned it in the 2018-19 academic year across a wide scope of academic disciplines.
Those earning the certificate in the 2018-19 academic year are:
“We congratulate all the students here today for their dedication to their studies,” concluded Saikia. “All of us at the Center are so proud, we wish you all good luck, and we expect great things from you!”