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Religion Newsletter 2022-2023

In this year's newsletter we celebrate our Outstanding Religion Major Award recipient and our 2023 graduates. You will also find news on alumni and faculty activities.

Abigail and Dr. Andani at the Senior Celebration
Abigail and Dr. Andani at the Senior Celebration

Student Awards

The Outstanding Religion Major Award, given to one or more outstanding seniors who major in Religion, goes Abigail Larson this year. Dr. Mahn states, "In a 'Suffering, Death and Hope' class during her junior year, Abigail served as hospice volunteer — accompanying people who were dying. Beside her courage to do this difficult, important work, Abigail has reflected deeply on these and other 'threshold' experiences. Her academic and emotional intelligence shone through again in her Senior Inquiry Project, which drew on religious and philosophical wisdom to think about mortality and lives worth living. I am heartened to know that wise, attentive graduates like Abigail are tomorrow's ministers and community leaders!" Congratulations to Abigail!

Seniors: Reflections and what comes next

Samantha Exner
Samantha Exner

Samantha Exner

Senior Inquiry title: "Hot-Spot Water Quality Analysis in Silver Creek"

Samantha is a double major in pre-medicine and Spanish for professional use with a minor in religion. This year, Samantha received an Honorable Mention award in the 18th annual Ethics Essay Contest for my medical ethics essay titled, "From Heparin to Xenotransplantation: Perspectives on Porcine Material in Medicine." She states: "I am very excited to attend Northwestern University in the fall to pursue my Master’s degree in reproductive science and medicine. I am so grateful for my time at Augie and the experiences that led me to this path. My family, friends, and professors were the greatest support system I could have asked for."

Gabrielle Goritz
Gabrielle Goritz

Gabrielle Goritz

Senior Inquiry title: "Catholicism & Oral Birth Control"

Gabrielle is a double major in Chemistry and Religion. Gabrielle accepted a position this past winter as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at St. Petronille in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.



Abigail Larson
Abigail Larson

Abigail Larson

Senior Inquiry title: "Living and Dying"

Abigail is a triple major in Communications Studies, Multimedia Journalism and Mass Communication, and Religion. Following graduation, she plans to take a year off to work and apply for seminary. She states, "Thanks to my courses, mentors, and experiences at Augustana, I was able to discern my call to be a hospital chaplain and I am incredibly thankful for the Augustana community, which encouraged me to recognize and listen to the call when I began to feel it stirring in me during my time as a hospice volunteer. While I am excited for what is to come, I will profoundly miss the loving, supportive community that I have been blessed to be a part of."

Angela Ruehle
Angela Ruehle

Angela Ruehle

Senior Inquiry title: "Religious Ritual and Mental Health: A Comprehensive Intersection"

Angela is a double major in Neuroscience and Religion. Angela won the religion scholarship her junior year. She writes: "My time at Augustana has been something I will cherish forever. I have been given opportunities I never could have imagined getting to have and have made memories and friendships that will last forever. The community I’ve built through the religion department, both faculty and peers, is something I will always remember and I am so glad I chose this major. Moving forward, I am thankful for the opportunities Augie has given me and I am excited to go out into the world with this powerful education by my side."

Congratulations to our other two graduating seniors Margaret “Maggie” Kane and Trey Graff.

Senior Celebration

Faculty and Religion students gathered in May to celebrate graduating seniors and award recipients.

Photos from the Senior Celebration

Top left: Samantha Exner with Dr. Mahn. Top right: Gabrielle Goritz with Dr. Lee.

Middle left: Trey Graff with Dr. Stewart. Middle right: Margaret Kane with Dr. Wolff.

Bottom left: Angela Ruehle with Dr. Wolff.

Recent grads

Annelisa Burns

Our Outstanding Religion Major award recipient last year, Annelisa Burns, continued her work with the Augustana Prison Education Program (APEP) this year. Once a week, she goes to the East Moline Correctional Center where she teaches an FYI course to 12 incarcerated men. Below is an article from The Christian Century that highlights and reflects on her time teaching at EMCC.

Faculty News

Dan Lee

Dr. Lee and Montana J-Term Students with Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribal Council Members

Dr. Lee and Montana J-Term Students with Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribal Council Members

Montana J- Term Students enjoying a hayrack ride in the snow

Montana J- Term Students enjoying a hayrack ride in the snow

Nine students joined Dr. Lee in Montana for a J term program. Highlights included meeting with Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribal Council Members, visiting an Amish farm and attending an Amish worship service, a hayrack ride on a hay wagon pulled by Ed and Emma, a beautiful team of Percheron draft horses, and dog sledding. On April 30, Dr. Lee, Dr. Mahn and Dr. Stewart took a group of nine students to the Amish community in Kalona, Iowa, where they attended a worship service followed by a simple lunch featuring wonderful homemade bread. The Amish warmly welcomed the Augustana group to their community.

Jason Mahn

Dr. Mahn has two highlights from teaching this past academic year. The first was the opportunity to teach a new J Term course to incarcerated students through the Augustana Prison Education Program (APEP). The second high-impact experience was joining his "Jesus & Discipleship, Then & Now" students on experiential components of the course. Two colleagues from other Lutheran liberal arts institutions and he edited and published a new book this winter, So That All May Flourish: The Aims of Lutheran Higher Education. His chapter is "Educating Whole Students for Wholeness" and considers Augustana’s mission to educate students in mind, body and spirit.

Zoom chat, "So That All May Flourish" book

Dr. Mahn and colleagues celebrate the publication of their book "So That All May Flourish: The Aims of Lutheran Higher Education" via zoom.

Chris Morales

Chris completed his dissertation, The Ethics and Politics of Friendship in Ralph Waldo Emerson and Friedrich Nietzsche, in August 2022, and he will be returning to the University of California, Santa Barbara to participate in his doctoral hooding ceremony in June. This summer he will begin work on his next project, which explores the white supremacist theology underpinning the ideologies of contemporary fascist movements in the U.S.

Eric Stewart

Dr. Stewart presented a paper entitled, "Who Submits to Whom: Ritual and Masculine Performance in Josephus’ Account of the Meeting of Alexander and the Judean High Priest Jaddua in Ant. 11.302-347” at the "Rituals, Emotions, and Identities: Gender Roles and Gender Identity in Early Christianity, the Greco-Roman World, and Contemporary Discourses 2.0" Interdisciplinary conference held at Universität Rostock. Rostock, Germany. This paper will be divided into two chapters in a forthcoming volume from Routledge Press likely to appear in 2024 in the Ritual in the Ancient World series. 

M Wolff

Dr. Wolff is the recipient of a Wabash Center Fellowship Grant 2022-2023. This was used to incorporate “compassionate curiosity” into Wolff’s teaching. From this project they contributed two blog posts to the “Embodied Teaching” series for the Wabash Center: ​Co-authored with Stacy Williams, “Trauma Informed Pedagogy Begins with Educators,” and forthcoming “Trans Embodiment Beyond Entrapment, or, an Invitation to Cultivate Compassionate Curiosity.”

Christmas at Augustana 2019

Christmas at Augustana, other holiday events planned

Augustana College celebrates the season with several events and performances open to the public.

Lindberg Center

1 in 2 Augustana grads has double (sometimes triple!) majors

Around the country, about 25% of college students double major. At Augustana, it’s much higher — 53.4% of the Class of 2020 had double or triple majors. What are the advantages?

Autumn Peele

Celebration of Learning showcases the work behind the future of students

From art and anthropology to philosophy and physics, nearly 100 students shared their research and creative projects during the first virtual Celebration of Learning.