Meet an Alum: Whittney Barth

Whittney BarthClass of 2008

B.A., Miami University (religion and American studies)
M.Div., Harvard Divinity School
J.D., University of Chicago Law School (in process)

Current home: Washington DC metro area

Current profession: Law student. Previously served as assistant director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.


"Studying religion prepared me for... graduate education and the legal profession by training me how to make cogent arguments from observation, questioning, and study."

Why did you decide to major in religion?

I came to the study of religion because I had practical and academic interests in interreligious encounters. At the time, I was also driven by questions about the roles of religion in American life, past and present.

These interests animated my decision to pursue a master of divinity degree and, ultimately, a career working on issues of civil rights and constitutional law.

What were your best experiences in the major?

My best experiences were my relationships with faculty and fellow students in the department. Faculty took a deep interest in majors and were always willing to entertain questions and meet with us outside of class.

The Comparative Religion Student Association also played an instrumental role in bringing faculty and students together for movie nights and lectures. The end-of-the-year departmental gatherings that included faculty and student comedy skits were also a great reminder not to take ourselves too seriously!

How did studying religion prepare you for your career?

Studying religion at Miami prepared me for the rigorous work of graduate education and the legal profession by training me how to make cogent arguments from observation, questioning, and study. I remember the process of writing my honors thesis. It was exhilarating to start with a question, dive into the research, formulate conclusions, consult with my faculty advisor, repeat as necessary, and pull it all together in writing.

Over the years, whether the writing task before me was a grant application, a book chapter, or a brief, I continue to benefit from the solid foundation that my religion major at Miami provided.

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