Meet a Major: Sam Bachmann

Sam BachmannHometown: Columbus, Ohio
Double major: Religion and international studies
Graduation: May 2017

After graduation: Will serve as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps

"Wherever I go with the Marine Corps, religion will be a relevant issue for me, especially since I'm studying militant Islamist movements."


Why did you decide to major in religion?

I was taking a section of REL 101 for an honors requirement. I was in Dr. Gray's section, and the way he made you engage with the information and apply critical analysis from other courses piqued my interest. Dr. French gave a guest lecture during that course on the roots of Islam, and that got me interested in looking at religion in a different fashion than I had before.

I decided to sign up for the religion minor halfway through the semester. I also signed up for Dr. French's next class: REL 376, "Global Militant Islamisms." We studied the history of jihadi Salafism and traced it to jihadis fighting against the Western world today.

What have been your best experiences in the major?

REL 376--that was what made me move from the minor to the major in religion. The outlook I had on other courses was dictated by the perspective I gained from REL 376. Later, I did independent study with Dr. French, which guided the research I did, and the papers I wrote, in other courses.

How has studying religion prepared you for a career?

Wherever I go with the Marine Corps, religion will be a relevant issue for me, especially since I'm studying militant Islamist movements.

The religion major is versatile. It makes you an analytical thinker, which is a universal skill to have. It doesn't give you factual knowledge; it teaches you how to apply that knowledge to new situations. The nature of the department is that courses are always pressing you to answer the question, "Why does this matter?" You learn to recognize the relevance of what you're studying to other people. You take what you've learned in one course and apply it to other fields of study.