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Announcement: North American Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Philosophy

Conference Theme: “What has Reason to do with Faith?”

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The North American Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Philosophy is organized by Westminster College, PA, St. Francis University, PA, and Lebanon Valley College, PA, with the support of the North American Association for the Study of Religion and the Heinz Lecture Series.

Papers from undergraduates in any discipline on any subject in Religious Studies and Philosophy are sought for a conference at Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA from March 20th to 22nd 2015. Student presentations of their papers will take place on Saturday March 21st. Public events and discussions, including “faculty consultations” in which the faculty members who accompany their students can share their specific expertise, will take place on Sunday.

Although papers on any subject will be considered, those that focus on the conference theme: “What has Reason to do with Faith?” will be given priority. In the second century of the Christian era the Church Father, Tertullian, famously asked, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem, or the academy with the Church?” In the academy of the 21st century the question still has relevance as we consider the relationship of philosophy to the study of religion. What is, or what should be, the role of philosophy in the study of religion? In a conference on religion and philosophy, how do the two disciplines inter-relate?

Subject to the discretion of a panel of judges cash prizes of $300 each will be awarded to the best paper in Religion, in Philosophy, and in a special “wildcard” category. “Non-traditional” presentations that deviate from the traditional format of a standard academic paper are encouraged. Traditional papers of approximately 2,500 words in length, requiring no more than 20 minutes to read, are sought, as well as such “non-traditional” presentations.

Featured Speakers

MandairArvind Pal Singh Mandair has doctoral degrees in Chemistry and Philosophy. He began his career as a research scientist in Chemistry. However, after becoming involved in human rights work in the early 1990’s he changed his academic field to study religion and philosophy and completed a second Ph.D in Philosophy. After teaching in London and New York, he moved to the University of Michigan where he is currently Associate Professor and holder of the S.B.S.C. Chair in Sikh Studies. Though grounded in South Asian studies, his research covers a wide range of disciplines including comparative and continental philosophy, postcolonial theory and the study of religion. His publications include Religion and the Specter of the West; Sikhism, India, Postcoloniality and the Politics of Translation; Secularism and Religion-Making (with Markus Dressler); Sikhism: A Guide For the Perplexed; and Teachings of the Sikh Gurus (with Christopher Shackle). Dr. Mandair serves on the editorial board of Culture and Religion, and Religions of South Asia and is the founding co-editor in chief of the journal Sikh Formations.

KripalJeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University. He is the author of numerous books in the study of religion, including Comparing Religions (2013); Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (2011); Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (2007); and Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna (1995). His interests include the history, science, psychology, and analysis of psychical experiences, esotericism, and mystical traditions. His present areas of research include the re-visioning and renewal of the comparative method in the study of religion, the comparative erotics of mystical literature, and American countercultural translations of Asian religious traditions.

Undergraduate students wishing to present at the conference should send abstracts of c. 150 words by January 18th and complete papers by February 15th, 2015. All such submissions should be addressed to: Bryan Rennie (brennie@westminster.edu) and include the author’s full name, paper title, institution, e-mail address, phone number, and the name and contact information of a faculty advisor.

Co-organizers: Bryan Rennie, Art Remillard, Matt Sayers

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