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Sarah Bouchard talks about fourth year

A day in the life

Sarah Bouchard talks about fourth year

sarah_bouchard_religious_studies_profile_019

You go in thinking you know everything about your religious tradition, but you don’t. Taking a Religious Studies class changes your view of the world.

Bringing two subjects together


Sarah Bouchard grew up in Fort Kent, a small town in northern Maine. But she’s got connections to the Atlantic region. “We always visited my mom’s family in Newfoundland,” she explains. “Before I was a student, I’d only been to Halifax once and never to Dal!”

But she’d heard about Dal from relatives. “My uncle went to the law school, and my aunt was in library sciences—both of them gave really great reviews.”

So Sarah knew Dal was a great place to study—but she had no idea what to study. But that was fine with her. “That was one reason I wanted to come here,” she says. “In the US, you have to go in knowing what program you want to take. But here, you can apply as a general arts student and try different things before declaring your major.”

That approach served her well. In first year, Sarah took the Introduction to Western Religions course. Almost right away, she remembers thinking, “Yeah, I want to do this—I love it!” So she decided to do a double major, combining Political Science with Religious Studies.

Divine inspiration? Not exactly. “I liked the prof. And it was intriguing—there was always something new to discover,” Sarah explains. “Religious Studies includes history, politics, languages, and other subjects in the arts and humanities.”

But the Religious Studies courses had another side Sarah wasn’t expecting. “People spoke a lot about their personal experiences,” she explains.

Like in the course on Islam Sarah took in second year: “Sometimes when Dr. Treiger would take an example from a book, people would say, ‘Oh, actually, this is how my family celebrates this,’” she says. “You find out about things you wouldn’t learn from a book.”

But how does Religious Studies fit with Political Science? “When I tell people what I’m majoring in, they think the subjects are competing. My Grandpa said, ‘Aren’t those the two things people aren’t supposed to talk about?’” Sarah laughs.

But it makes sense to Sarah. “Both subjects look at how people work together and organize themselves,” she says. “And I’ve learned that religion and culture are very much linked.”

One of her last courses will be Religious Warfare and the Political Theology in the Early Modern Period. “It’s bringing my two subject areas together in one class—I’m really looking forward to it.”