Religious Studies Major Receives Donna Swaim Award

April 13, 2018

Religious Studies major Rob Lisak is the recipient of the 2018 Donna Swaim International Award for Religious Studies, which will help support his study abroad trip to China with the Arizona in Hangzhou program.


Rob Lisak writes: “Religious Studies is not simply about a degree for me. This is truly about being able to see another human being completely and understand as much as I can. Maybe to help start a discourse with someone someday who hasn't looked in the places I have for that understanding. I believe those conversations will lead to conversations beyond me. Last week, I met a student from one of my classes for coffee and to discuss Emile Durkheim. He is devoutly Jewish, I am not. I asked how Durkheim's ideas regarding society and religion affected him. The conversation got wide in scope.  We talked about Christianity and Islam, and Judaism and the Inquisition and the Holocaust.  We talked about Buddhism and Taoism and the Hindu ideas of the Brahman and Atman.  We have both visited Auschwitz so we reflected on that and the effects of Adolf Hitler.  We talked about science and astronomy and Relativity and the Big Bang Theory.  At a point, he looked at me and said, ‘So, how do we change the world?’.  I said, ‘We are changing it right now by having this conversation.’”