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Ongoing Research

Every student who graduates from Carthage with a major in religion must complete a substantial research work or project. Students work on this senior thesis with a directing professor, and it counts as a religion course (REL 4000: Senior Seminar).

The work produced for these senior theses is very creative, and many projects are interdisciplinary, combining religion with theatre, communications or classics study. In the past, students have written plays, produced radio programs, or focused on archaeological excavations.

Senior Theses

Rockin’ Out for Jesus – Zachary Wolf

Rockin’ out for Jesus is here to stay! This musically simple form of expression has assumed a prominent position alongside the chants, madrigals, and hymns that have long characterized public Christian worship. But will the growing complexity and virtuosity of the rock scene call forth a yet newer, reformed genre? Zachary Wolf’s careful analysis of music history both inside and outside church walls provides a clue.

Cannibalism and Eucharist – Brent Mitchell

“Take, eat, this is my body.” Traditional adherence to the transubstantiation doctrine calls the faithful to identify the Eucharistic bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ. But this evokes a ghastly suspicion! Are we, as a people, tethered to a benighted past marked by ritual cannibalism? Brent Mitchell’s psycho-anthropological investigation unveils startling connections.

To Perceive God: Immanence & Transcendence — Nick Tackes 

Ecstasy, intoxication, and sexual promiscuity: Scholars rave about the “gods gone wild” behavior of Shiva and Dionysius in the Shiva Purana and Euripedes’ Bacchae. Such provocative deities! Both challenge deeply the understanding of on-lookers … but then how can god ever truly be understood? Nick Tackes’ analysis of the Shiva Purana and Euripedes’ Bacchae explores the special challenges facing the lnarratives’ characters as they attempt to comprehend the nearly incomprehensible Dionysious and Shiva.

The Prosperity Gospel – Marguerite Harris

You, too, could be using a $23,000 commode. Just name-it-and-claim-it! From Essek Kenyon to Creflo Dollar, prosperity preachers have been fleecing their sheep. Rampant abuse even ignited a senate inquiry, resulting in Chuck Grassley’s pointed challenge to preacher David Meyer’s privy habits. Marguerite Harris’ spirited review of the rise of the prosperity gospel and its grip on the poor explores how it happened in our land of milk and honey.

Social Networking: Boon or Bane? — Heather May 

Social networking continues to expand explosively in pop culture, fueled by an almost compulsive need among young people for continuous peer contact—preferably peer contact mediated electronically. Can church youth ministry programs survive without using social media, video clips, and canned music? Heather May carefully analyzes the developing interests among today’s Wisconsin teens in a bid to keep youth ministry alive and relevant.

Religion in the Culture of Bioethics – Sierra Nash

Medical professionals worldwide grapple with bioethical concerns. Organ donation, humanity of the fetus, and euthanasia all seem to call forth religiously conditioned responses. But do they? And who decides where religion drops off and science takes up? Sierra Nash’s analytic comparison of US and Japanese practices provides insight into the religio-cultural bearing upon bioethics.

Youth Ministry: Key to Church Growth — Abrah Volden 

For many, the holy grail of modern Protestantism is church growth, and youth ministry seems to stand out as one especially mysterious component of the overall formula. True, churches that have formed effective youth ministry programs have better church attendance generally, but is this cause or effect? Abrah Volden explores the many avenues to improve church growth through formal youth ministry programming, thus capitalizing on the influence of the young upon their elders.

Saint Thomas and his Apostolate in India – Alpha Sabbithi

Saint Thomas (Didymus), in India? Three Indian Christian traditions insist on it. Evidence ranges from syncretistic ritual forms, to a putative tomb where the faithful report miraculous healing, to seven churches of mysterious origin. Benedict VI recently unleashed a storm of protest in India when he questioned the reliability of the tradition. Alpha Sabbithi’s historical inquiry assesses the likelihood of Saint Thomas’ Indian sojourn.

From Russia with Love — Elliot Culp

Set over in the Virgin Lands campaign, ethnic Russians, loyal to the Moscow Patriarch, constitute one quarter of the population of Kazakhstan today. But the Patriarchate is an agent of the Russian government, and thus Kazakhstanis find themselves challenged to establish their own identity distinct from their former occupiers, but without alienating this vast Russian swath of the populace. Elliot Culp offers his considered counsel.

Legalism and Mandatory Dress Codes – Alethea van Buren

A woman’s style of dress speaks. With careful selection she can display attitudes, intentions, and self-identity. But does God care? Yes, argues Alethea van Buren, though much depends upon whether the woman is under Biblical Law or Spirit Law. The first enforces outer discipline, the second flows from inner vitality. Van Buren explores religious communities which fail to recognize this distinction, thus imposing needless, detrimental, constraints upon women’s fashion choices.

Franquismo and Confessions across Gibraltar — Megan Szabo 

Catholic Spain…Is that so? Today powerful influences, both ideological and international, bear on the religion of the historically monolithic Spain and the Church that fueled her worldwide discoveries. Megan Szabo probes—specifically at the “crossroads” of Andalucía—how the evolution of a formerly nationalized faith has proceeded, and how it is perceived in the increasingly globalized community.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wins, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …