Meet a Major: Samantha Gauer

Samantha GauerHometown: Columbus, Ohio
Double major: Religion; media and culture
Graduation: May 2017

After graduation: Is considering film school

"The religion major let me take my own approach to my learning... [It's] very interdisciplinary."

Why did you decide to major in religion?

I came to Miami undecided, but I knew I wanted to do something humanities-based. My mom suggested I look into religion because it was a current-events issue. I took a course on suffering from Dr. French my freshman year, and got hooked right away.

This major has challenged me because of the critical thinking required. I enjoy that.

What have been your best experiences in the major?

I've been able to take a diverse range of courses, but focused in the way I want. The religion major let me take my own approach to my learning--to do what I want with it. I've taken a feminism route in the courses I chose to fill the religion major. I took an anthropology course where I wrote about Islamic feminism; then I wrote about Native American feminism; then I took a political science course where I wrote about female struggles globally.

I'm a Middle East studies minor, so I've also taken a Middle Eastern approach to religion. I've definitely been interested in Dr. French's courses in Islamic studies, like "Global Militant Islamisms." I'm taking his "Religion and Law" course now [REL 355]. Combining my Middle East studies with my film background, I've started paying attention to Middle Eastern films up for nomination at the Oscars. I'm interested in whether or not these films are made to reaffirm Western beliefs about the Middle East.

How has studying religion prepared you for a career?

My two majors are very different. I think of them as representing different parts of how I think. The religion major captures the academic, critical thinking side; the media and culture major is the more creative, practical side of what I'm doing.

The religion major is very interdisciplinary. It's a major that will have you looking into a lot of different things--group dynamics, social behavior, history. This major kept me up-to-date on current events through college, but also interested in the past, in looking critically at everything.

I would tell every student to definitely take a religion course. If you're expecting it to be a course on "Jesus and God," it's much more than that.