***IMPORTANT---RS 102: Religion in Sickness and Health, counts towards the RS Gateway course requirement for RS Major and Certificate students. The UW-Catalog will be updated soon to reflect this.


Religious Studies Sponsored Events


RS Capstone Presentations: May 3, 4pm, 8417 Soc Sci

RS Graduation Celebration: May 11, 4:30-6pm, 8417 Soc Sci

Religious Studies Announcements

Religious Studies Program Award Citations, May 2016

The new Award for Academic Excellence recognizes majors who have consistently surpassed faculty expectations in achievement of the learning goals of the RS Program and produced superb capstone projects.

Joseph Deguire: The first recipient of this award sets a high standard to follow.  From first term freshman year, when he got a perfect score on his first exam in his first RS class, he’s maintained a perfect academic record in 3 majors (Economics, Math, RS), culminating in an RS capstone thesis that deftly brought together fields often considered miles apart (if only down the hall from each other at UW). He’s not the first student to contemplate meaning in a bottle of beer, to be sure, but in using the marketing of Trappist beers as a test case for developing a model of how approaches in religious studies and economics may complement each other, Joey Deguire has produced an original, creative and compelling thesis. He’s made it look easy, but he hasn’t coasted. He has demonstrated a passion for learning, disciplined effort, and a desire to keep improving on “perfect.” He’s done so with humility, grace and generosity to his fellow students and his teachers. While this award recognizes scholarship, we cannot fail to mention Joey’s contributions to RS outside the classroom, especially his help with our recent assessment and co-editor of our newsletter. Joey has cultivated scholarship in community at UW. We wish him all the best as he explores a new community of learning and service, the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church. The words of its most illustrious brother, St. Thomas Aquinas, sum up our experience of Joey well, “Better to illuminate than merely to shine.” In the spirit of your thesis, Joey, we offer enthusiastic “Cheers!”


Our new Award for Citizenship celebrates majors who have served our RS community and others with dedication and enthusiasm and who have demonstrated special promise for future service in experiential learning and in coursework. This is a very difficult award to assign because RS majors--and certificate students-- tend to be service-oriented and connect their classroom learning to real life. The award this year is shared by two majors.

Morgan Haefner: “My career goal is simple. It’s to change a life, maybe a few lives. I’ll reach this goal by using my words to expose resounding truths; to foster understanding; to tell stories. I want to be a voice for the voiceless.” Morgan Haefner, who wrote those aspirations, has been honing her skills as a storyteller since her first term in our Freshman Interest Group course on Love and Attachment in Buddhist Art and Literature.  She built on her learning in Cambodia in the Buddhist Ethic of Care service learning course the following summer and told us about Cambodia by helping us see and hear people she encountered there in our 2014 newsletter. Morgan has also served by helping others improve their own writing and storytelling.  She’s been an indispensable Writing Tutor for RS and other classes as well as volunteering as a Tutor at East High School and with the Badger Book Club at James C. Wright Middle School. RS has been fortunate to have her as editor of our 2015 newsletter as well as a ready and willing helping hand when called on. As Statewide Communications Assistant for Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers, Morgan has helped to support health students and professionals and underserved populations throughout the state with her words. Soon she begins a new job in Chicago building on her experience in health communications. Morgan’s own story has included the tragic loss of a parent during her years at UW.  She has managed with extraordinary poise, handling school, work and volunteer responsibilities while living true to her heart and home. Knowing her through this has been inspiring. We look forward to the stories she will tell.

Teja Vemuganti: We’ve seen her cracking jokes as MC at an Indian Students’ Association event (Check out UW India Night 2015 on U-Tube) and hugging a goat in a Tanzanian village (see our 2015 newsletter). Teja Vemuganti is all about celebrating understanding and meaning in and across cultures. As one of the directors of Yoni Ki Baat, a narrative performance adapted from Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, she helped to raise the voices of diasporic women of color, celebrating ‘herstories’ and highlighting the need for more holistic attention to women’s health. As part of UW’s Bad River Field course, she learned from and with Ojibwe youth on the reservation about connections between community, health and story. In her capstone project, Teja studied something that on the surface seemed like just a nice cultural thing for young women of South Asian descent to do: learn a little historical Indian dance. But when she began to ask questions about the history and practice of Bharatanatyam as a herstory and as religious story, she discovered something much more complex, not always so nice, and still incredibly powerful for the women who shape it today as it shapes them. Interviewing mothers, dance teachers, and young women who like herself have participated in this rite of passage, she has raised awareness of its importance as an embodied, identity-making practice and given her South Asian sisters a more robust sense of community, identity and agency. Teja has represented RS at the Majors Fair and the Undergraduate Symposium this April. She will pursue a career in publich health. She will also continue to dance. And, she says, so will any daughters she has.