Research in Religious Studies Conference Call for Papers

The Religious Studies Department, at the University of Lethbridge, will present the 10th Annual Research in Religious Studies Conference on May 5 – 6, 2012.

The conference provides undergraduate and graduate level students with the opportunity to present papers on the history, belief, practices, cultural contexts, and artistic or literary expressions of any religious tradition.  Proposals for papers from any discipline within the academic fields of the humanities and social science are welcome.

The conference is open to students from any educational institute at any point in their educational career.  Although we encourage PhD students to attend, we are particularly seeking papers by undergraduate and masters level students.

Papers will be selected on basis of abstracts submitted. Click here to submit your abstract. And if you need some help:  How To Write An Abstract

Found at

The conference’s history has been one of great success in terms of the numbers and quality of papers presented and the obvious impact it has had on students. Our meeting provides all the benefits conferences provide for professors and more. It is a very positive pedagogical tool for those destined to continue their studies at a more advanced level. The conference provides students with a way to make good on all the constructive feedback from their professors and to see just what kind of level they can actually work at. The conference is modeled on professional conferences and is a venue for undergraduate and master’s students to meet and share the fruits of their research. The students certainly rise to the occasion and the pedagogical benefits are many.

 See our page on tips for presentations and how the conference is organized

My first attempt at organizing a student conference was with a friend back when we were undergraduates at the University of Alberta in the early ’90s. Our few presenters and somewhat skeptical but supportive professors all thought it a great success. Unfortunately, it lasted only one year after we graduated. During my time at the University of Alberta I was encouraged to attend professional conferences as well, and even had two papers accepted for presentation at the annual meetings of the Pacific Northwest Region of the Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion.

Our first meeting was in early May 2003, when a handful of students presented papers to a small body of their peers, parents and a few professors. The next year 12 papers were presented and in 2005 we advertised the conference at the University of Calgary. A strong showing from there brought our total to over 20 presenters.

In 2006 over 40 papers were presented by students from five provinces, and even from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The succeeding year our meeting was as large and we included participants from Ontario, Washington, Tennessee, Alabama and Oregon. Financial difficulties for students led to smaller meetings in subsequent years, but we still drew participants from across Canada.  In 2012 we had some 50 papers scheduled with some presenters travelling from Halifax and Stanford University in California. Go here to see the 2011 schedule!

The diversity of topics is astounding, from Islamic and Hindu philosophy and mysticism to apocalyptic imagery in the tea-party movement in the United States. The religious content of Second World War propaganda posters interests one presenter while another will talk about psychological aspects of conversion.

The variety of approaches and disciplines from which these papers are drawn cover almost all of the academic disciplines that study humans and society. There have even been papers on religious video games.

Altogether, the conference highlights what universities are all about: curiosity into the nature of the world we inhabit and create for ourselves. And there is no better way to end an academic year than to see that curiosity pursued so diligently and expertly by students.

This year, our banquet keynote speaker will be James F. McGrath,  Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, and world famous as the mind behind the Exploring Our Matrix blog, and famouser as the editor of the new volume. Religion and Science Fiction.

For additional information, please contact the Conference Coordinators at

Or contact individually,

Dr. James Linville, Coordinator  –

Bev Garnett, Administrative Assistant, RELS –

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