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

and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

Undergraduate Symposium

Call for Papers



2018 MAR-AAR-SBL Undergraduate Symposium

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Location: Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, NJ

2 Albany St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Proposal Deadline: Extended to December 30, 2017

Lodging and Registration:  https://mar-aarsbl.org/registration


MAR-AAR Executive Board

President – Christopher Fici, Ph.D candidate

Vice President/President Elect – Gerald S. Vigna, Ph.D

Regional Coordinator – Sabrina D. MisirHiralall, Ed.D

Graduate Student Representative – Tekoa Robinson, Lancaster Theological Seminary, M.Div candidate.


The 2016 Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Academy of Religion (MAR-AAR) annual conference had particular success with undergraduate panels running throughout the entire conference program.  In 2017, MAR-AAR and SBL mounted a successful all-day symposium for undergraduate students who wished to present papers on topics in religion, even if not religious studies majors themselves. With the academic interests of undergraduates in mind, MAR-AAR and the SBL would like to again host an Undergraduate Student Research Symposium as a one-day event for our undergraduate community to pursue their interests in religious studies and/or theology.      

Symposium Theme:

The Undergraduate symposium theme centers on the 2018 MAR-AAR conference theme, Religion and Theology in a Crossroads Age: The Anticipatory Scholar. During the 2017 conference, we explored key questions as to how public intellectuals construct knowledge in religious and theological scholarship, along with specific questions as to whether the infrastructure of higher education has a responsibility to endorse public intellectualism despite the “business model” that many campuses engage in. With the 2017 conference theme as a point of departure, the 2018 conference theme aims to deepen our dialogue, as we continue not only to explore our position as religious and theological scholars in the public sphere but also think about how our vocational vision and calling responds to a planetary age of crossroads and crisis. Are we called, as religious and theological scholars, to practice prophetic pragmatism? Cornel West describes prophetic pragmatism as a response to the wicked challenges of our day and age, which calls us to shape our work with and through “tragic action with revolutionary intent, usually reformist consequences, and always visionary outlook.” How do we understand our scholarly vocation, personally and collectively, in a visionary, anticipatory sense in planetary circumstances, which will not allow us to be hermetically sealed from each other?

One of our responsibilities as public intellectuals in the field of religious and theological studies is to help undergraduates find purpose. The business model in academe concerns many faculty in several disciplines as students focus on the baccalaureate as a credential for employment. Not simply asking, “What can I do with a major in theology or religious studies?” the symposium provides a place for undergraduates to better understand the potential of their interests in theology and religious studies to bring healing to a world fraught with issues political, economic, and social.   With the above in mind, this year’s symposium theme is, How Will Undergraduates Anticipate their Eventual Contribution as Global Citizens and Public Intellectuals?   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.  In our one-day Undergraduate Symposium, we welcome proposals from all disciplines.  

Plenary Address Speaker

Gerald S. Vigna, Ph.D.,  Associate Professor of Theology, Alvernia University.

Dr. Vigna has also served as Dean of Alvernia’s College of Arts and Sciences and Director of its O’Pake Center for Ethics, Leadership, and Public Service.

Title: Finding Our Purpose beyond Classroom and Workplace: The Anticipatory Undergraduate in the Wider World

Proposal Submission

Who may submit?

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

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

  • We welcome faculty at all levels 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 350-500 words.  We eagerly welcome scholarly papers across academic disciplines.  Undergraduate also may propose a panel with a maximum of three students on a panel.  For panel submissions, each student on the panel is required to submit an abstract of 350-500 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, Sophomore, 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, Christopher Fici, at clf2138@utsnyc.edu and Vice President/President Elect, Gerald S. Vigna at jerry.vigna@alvernia.edu.

Proposal Deadline: December 30, 2017.

Submit by e-mail attachment to:

You will receive notification regarding the status of your proposal by January 15, 2018. 

If you have questions or need additional information about submitting a proposal, please contact the MAR-AAR President, Christopher Fici, at clf2138@utsnyc.edu or Vice President/President-Elect, Gerald S. Vigna at jerry.vigna@alvernia.edu.