How can you use a degree in Religious Studies? The possibilities are really endless! Alumna Kathryn Williams uses what she learned in the program to rethink farming and agriculture from the ground up, literally! In this interview, we learn more about Kathryn's experience with religious studies and what she's been up to lately.
What about the program makes you want to pay it forward?
The Religious Studies Department held such a special space for me as I developed my voice; both in terms of academic writing, but also in my personal life. I was supported, challenged, and inspired to follow my interests, create a thesis I was proud of, and to continuously broaden my lens in which I perceive the world. Providing this developmental space for me inspires me to do the same for others!
What's a favorite memory from your time in the program?
One of my favorite memories from the program was attending the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Conference in 2012. I traveled with another fellow alumn of the program (Sarah Levine). It was electrifying being amongst so many other people who shared similar interests, the opportunity to hear some accomplished scholars in the field speak, and seeing the infinite avenues of studies that were happening in the field at that point in time! The connection to [the] community, was extremely fulfilling.
What is something you learned in Religious Studies that you took with you after graduation/into your career?
There are many things that I learned during my time in the Religious Studies program that I took away, however, there are two significant pieces that I utilize in my career post-graduation. Those are the preservation of oral traditions/storytelling and methodology. As a farmer, I see the importance of seed saving as a way to preserve oral traditions - an opportunity to trace back to the origins of certain crops, how they got here, and how they were used traditionally/culturally. I utilize methodology as a way to integrate various methods of agriculture in order to (w)holistically care for our farm. We pull from Biodynamics, Organics, ancient/indigenous practices, and regenerative agriculture. Conventional agriculture is focused on the quantity of crop production, often ignoring the very soil that produces said crops. My husband and I have the opportunity (& great privilege) to dial into a more regenerative approach that first starts with feeding and caring for the animal life in the soil, which allows for more nutrient-dense crop production. Both in the field of Religious Studies and the fields of my farm, methodological approaches allow for broader research, teaching, and learning.