Meet a Major: Owen Walsh

Owen WalshHometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Double major: Religion and economics
Graduation: May 2017

After graduation: Will attend law school to study human rights law

"Studying religion teaches you how society works... It gets you thinking about real-world problems."

Why did you decide to major in religion?

I became a religion major after doing the department's study abroad program in Oman. I learned from that experience that religion is more than just learning about Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam. We were studying how religion impacts economics, how those two impact societal norms, etc. Studying religion teaches you how society works.

So after the study abroad trip, I took some of the department's intro courses. I liked it more and more, especially when I got past the 200-level courses, where you have even more options to pick and choose.

What have been your best experiences in the major?

Dr. Johnson's methods course, REL 201 ("Methods for the Study of Religion"), helped me learn how to research and craft a paper on a topic of my choice--but it also made me better informed about a range of topics and issues, both at home and abroad. I became aware of how people use religion to respond to situations they're in: Is there a way out? If so, what?

The study abroad experience set the tone for why I want to go to law school. We met migrant workers, and interacting with them got me interested in refugees, helping those who flee persecution.

How has studying religion prepared you for a career?

As an economics major, I work through the problems, I see what people do--but it's all theoretical. The religion major allows me to see what the effects of policies are on people, culture, society.

I have friends who laugh: "Why study religion?" Because it gets you thinking about real-world problems. You encounter different viewpoints--you may disagree, but it helps you develop your own: what's good, what's bad about that issue.

The religion major is misviewed; people don't know what it's really about. The study of religion takes into account more disciplines than you think.