Why Can’t I Just Major in REWA?

By: Derek Buyan

April 23, 2014

“Why can’t I just major in REWA?"—I distinctly remember asking my "Problem of God" professor during office hours at the end of my freshman year. The Berkley Center had just debuted the certificate program in Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs (REWA), and it seemed to perfectly synthesize the budding academic interests of my freshman self: political theology, religious ethics, religion, and politics. At the first opportunity, I signed myself up for the program; I have not looked back.

Not only did the REWA certificate program prove the perfect place at Georgetown for studying the subjects that I find most fascinating, but the elective coursework also permitted me the flexibility to realize another goal: studying abroad in Germany and perfecting my German skills. As I enter my second month as a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Bamberg, Germany, the importance of the program’s support of my petition to take some of my REWA classes abroad is unmistakable. The year I spent in Munich immediately set my application for the Fulbright teaching assistantship apart from others, provided relevant cultural and linguistic experience, as well as many relevant talking points during the interview process. On a day-to-day basis, my fluency in both the German language and the most relevant topics in religion, politics, as well as German and European society, lend themselves to engaging my students and leading productive discussions in class.

The REWA certificate program’s capstone seminar was one of my first opportunities to conduct independent research in the field of religion and politics. Indeed, the program has provided me with a strong interdisciplinary basis for further academic research. This year, as a research assistant for Professor Akbar Ahmed’s (American University) latest book project, Journey Into Europe, I continue to build upon this base, considering questions of German identity, Germany’s historic and modern role in Europe, and Muslims’ place in German society. Both research for this book and my multiple stays in Germany have spurred a new personal and professional interest as well: learning Turkish. 

In five years, I hope to be pursuing doctoral studies in Religion, and more specifically, religious ethics. My involvement in the certificate program connected me with excellent professors, whose interests, professional networks, and guidance have significantly assisted me in discerning the next step in pursuing a career in academia: a pre-doctoral M.A. in Religion.

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Why Can’t I Just Major in REWA?