Why Study Religion? with Dr. Chadwick Allen

Why Study Religion? is a video series in which the CSR asks its faculty, students, staff, and guests what is important to them about the academic study of religion and why more folks should consider pursuing it. Find out more about the Center and its initiatives HERE. To learn more about OSU’s Religious Studies Major, visit our website at THIS LINK.

Why does Dr. Chadwick Allen, Professor of English and Adjunct Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, think it’s important to study religion? Watch the video below to find out!

And don’t miss the upcoming opportunity to hear Dr. Allen’s talk (4/14), “Wombed Hollows, Sacred Trees: Burial Mounds and Processual Indigenous Subjectivity,” and go on a curated tour of the Newark Earthworks (4/16) with him and Dr. John Low, director of the center. These events are co-sponsored with the American Indian Studies Program in the Center for Ethnic Studies at OSU. More information can be found on the event webpage. We hope to have you join us!


I’m a professor of English, and my work looks at indigenous self-representation in literature, other arts, and activism. I did my undergraduate degree, however, not in English or art history or  political science or even anthropology, but rather in the comparative study of religion, which combined all of those areas and more.

I think I was drawn to the study of religion for two primary reasons. First, because I was fascinated by how different peoples construct their worldviews. And, second, because I was interested in comparative approaches. What happens when we put different conceptions of the world into generative conversation?

Because I was particularly interested in studying indigenous worldviews, I was struck that, although the study of religion was expansive in its interdisciplinarity, it was also rather conservative. When I was an undergraduate, the field focused primarily on so-called “world religions” that had one or more central written, sacred texts. I like to think the field has expanded beyond such limitations, and I think one reason more people should study religion is to push the academy to continue to expand its understandings of the breadth, diversity, and, really, the complexity of human experience


Interested in sharing with us what brought you to the academic study of religion? Send us an email at religion@osu.edu!

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