Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Academy of Religion (MAR-AAR)

and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

Undergraduate Symposium

Call for Papers


2017 MAR-AAR-SBL Undergraduate Symposium

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Location: Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, NJ

2 Albany St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Proposal Deadline: December 30, 2016


MAR-AAR Executive Board

President – Sabrina D. MisirHiralall, Ed.D

Vice President/President Elect – Christopher Fici, Ph.D candidate

Regional Coordinator – David Brewer, ABD

Graduate Student Representative – Dan Randazzo, ABD


The 2016 Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Academy of Religion (MAR-AAR) annual conference had particular success with our program of undergraduate panels running throughout the entire conference program.  Dan Randazzo, the MAR-AAR Graduate Student Representative, hosted a session dedicated to speaking to undergraduates about prepping for the Graduate School process. Michael Canaris from Loyola University-Chicago spoke to undergraduates during the first Undergraduate Reception of MAR-AAR about what undergraduates could do with a Religious Studies major or minor.  Dr. Canaris also conveyed to undergraduates how they could align other majors with a Religious Studies major or minor.  

Due to the success of these recent annual conference activities in our region, MAR-AAR now has a healthy undergraduate community of students who are interested in pursuing religious studies and/or theology as a part of their Graduate studies.  With the academic interests of undergraduates in mind, MAR-AAR and the SBL would like to begin an ongoing initiative to host an Undergraduate Student Research Symposium, which we would also like to see developed across other regions of the AAR.  We envision this symposium as a one-day event that will create opportunities for our undergraduate community to pursue their interests in Religious Studies and/or theology.   

Symposium Theme:

The Undergraduate symposium theme centers on the 2017 MAR-AAR conference theme, The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals in Religious and Theological Scholarship?  One of our responsibilities as public intellectuals in the field of religious and theological studies is to help undergraduates find their existential purpose for being.  We hope to introduce undergraduates across and beyond the region to the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature by providing a space for undergraduates to connect with each other and also connect to esteemed scholars of the region.  In fact, in the future, we envision a space at the annual American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature conference for undergraduates to share oral and multimedia presentations as well as an Undergraduate Reception that will help undergraduates connect with one another as they become a part of AAR or SBL. Hopefully they will continue to be a part of AAR or SBL throughout their respective graduate studies.

With the above in mind, this year’s symposium theme is, How Can Undergraduates Transform the Public Sphere as Public Intellectuals?  Higher education once provided a venue for undergraduates to focus on developing their intellectual abilities to become productive members of society.  Currently, academia as a business model plagues many of our undergraduate institutions as many students maintain too much attention on going through the necessary motions to merely attain the degree and pursue employment right after graduation.  

Consequently, a de-valuing of undergraduates as scholars of research may potentially occur. Despite these unfortunate circumstances, many undergraduates pursue rigorous scholarship that has the ability to transform the public sphere.  The symposium theme asks undergraduates to think about how their scholarship is and can be transformative for the public sphere to create a more just society.  While we will give attention to proposals that focus on religious studies or theology, we welcome proposals across disciplines as we aim to create a venue for undergraduates to participate in rigorous scholarship and introduce undergraduates of all disciplines to the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature.   

Plenary Address Speaker

John M. Lawton, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, The Community College of Baltimore County

Title: What is an Intellectual?

Proposal Submission

Who should submit?

  • Undergraduates enrolled in higher education or individuals with an Associates or Bachelors Degree who are currently not enrolled may submit a research paper.  

  • Graduate students whose research interests focus on religious studies or theology may submit a CV or scholarly publication to be considered as a respondent.  

  • We welcome junior and senior faculty interested in being respondents for undergraduate papers.  

What should you submit?

Undergraduates should submit an abstract of their research paper.  The abstract should be between 250-300 words.  We welcome scholarly papers across academic disciplines.  Undergraduates are welcome to submit a panel with the maximum of three students on a panel.  For panel submissions, each student on the panel is required to submit an abstract of  200-250 words.  Panel submissions may include a respondent as a fourth person.  Eligible respondents include graduate students, junior faculty, and senior faculty.  

What will happen after you submit?

The MAR-AAR Executive Board and the Steering Committee will deliberate about your submission.  You will hear from the Executive Board through email by January.  If you are accepted, you will plan to present your paper within a 20-30 minute time frame, depending upon the number of people in your session.  The Executive Board will guide you through preparation.  

Undergraduate Submissions should include the following information:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Institutional Affiliation
  • Major and Minor (if applicable)
  • Adviser (Who mentored you with your research paper?)
  • Degree Pursuing (Associates, Bachelors)
  • Student Status (Freshman, Sophmore, Junior, Senior)
  • 200-250 word abstract

Graduate Students Requesting to be respondents should submit the following information:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Institutional Affiliation
  • CV and/or Scholarly Publication

Junior and Senior Faculty who would like to serve as respondent should express interest to MAR-AAR President, Sabrina D. MisirHiralall, at MisirHiralall.S@gmail.com and Vice President/President-Elect, Christopher Fici, at clf2138@utsnyc.edu.

Submission Deadline:

Extended to December 30, 2016.

Submit by e-mail attachment to ALL:

  • President, Sabrina D. MisirHiralall, MisirHiralall.S@gmail.com
  • Vice President/President-Elect, Christopher Fici, clf2138@utsnyc.edu.
  • Regional Coordinator, David Brewer, davebrewer.2011@gmail.com
  • Graduate Student Representative, Dan Randazzo, empiezo@gmail.com

You will receive notification regarding the status of your proposal by January 17, 2017.

If you have questions or need additional information about submitting a proposal, please contact the MAR-AAR President, Sabrina D. MisirHiralall, at MisirHiralall.S@gmail.com or Vice President/President-Elect, Christopher Fici, at clf2138@utsnyc.edu.