Jahan Zaveri '19, 'Every class I have taken in religious studies has taught me something new about myself'

By: Ayla Cline, 
April 3, 2018

What did you most enjoy about your Religious Studies coursework?

Religious Studies classes have allowed me to study different cultures across time through a very unique lens. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to travel through history while considering various socioeconomic and political factors as the same religions (are they the same?) have survived across several civilizations and time periods to the present. This coursework encourages self exploration and has helped me develop both inside and outside the classroom. 84% of the worlds population believes in some faith and as a non-religious person it has given me a glimpse in to some of their perspectives of life. 

What drew you to Religious Studies at Cornell? 

I never intended to become a religious studies major when I took my first class. The class fulfilled a liberal arts requirement of mine while overlapping with some personal interest. I wanted to see how different people tried to make sense of the world around us and thought religion would be a good cross cultural medium to investigate it. The style in which most religious studies classes are taught was also enticing, the classes are very engaging and involve high participation. You learn a lot from other students in your class creating a more active learning experience. 

How has your Religious Studies minor shaped your experience at Cornell, your plans for the future, or the development of your intellectual interests?

It has bolstered my interest in policy and international relations. We have all heard about how there is always more to politics than just what is on the surface; my classes have highlighted the interconnectedness of religion and politics and the importance of unpacking the religious context. I can safely say that every class I have take in Religious Studies has taught me something new about myself and my professional ambitions.

 If you were to offer advice to someone thinking about majoring/minoring in Religious Studies, what would you say to them?

I would say that it is important to jump in head first as the more work you put in the more you learn from your classes. It is important to note that this is an academic approach to studying religion and one does not have to be concerned about personal beliefs. Lastly, don't forget to utilize the wealth of knowledge that professors have to offer; go to office hours, ask them questions, and learn about their valuable experiences. 

Jahan Zaveri, religious studies major