Students Receive 2023 Religious Studies Department Awards

May 8, 2023

The Department of Religious Studies is pleased to announce the winners of the Lynn C. Dickerson Award and the Philip R. Hart Prize for 2023.

The Lynn C. Dickerson Award is awarded to an outstanding graduating senior in the Department of Religious Studies. This year’s recipient, Natalie Schaus, a major in environmental studies, geography, and sociology, credits her minor in religious studies with enhancing her studies in other disciplines. Matthew Rooney ‘23, a history and leadership studies major, was awarded the department’s 2023 Phillip R. Hart Prize. This prize recognizes an undergraduate student who demonstrates a strength in student leadership and a commitment to the study of religion. 

“My religious studies minor allowed me to explore many different cultures and learn about topics I would have never considered otherwise," Schaus reflected. "The class readings and subsequent papers enhanced my analytical skills and discussions about culture and societies allowed me to apply my knowledge to other disciplines, such as sociology, environmental studies, and geography. I am very grateful for the classes that I was able to both take and work for as a writing consultant, and I will carry those skills with me.”

“With a minor in the religious studies department, I have developed an increased understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives and experiences. I have had the privilege to study Native American religion and art, learn about witchcraft and superstitions of the early Americas, engage with the overlapping of ethics and religion, and even expand my understanding of my own childhood religion of Christianity through the study of the New Testament," Rooney said. "Most importantly, studying with Dr. Winiarski about the material culture of cemeteries in Richmond has transformed the way I experience the modern world. This class helped me become aware and present to the many small ways religion unconsciously shapes the world while simultaneously growing my analytical and interpretive skills. I am thankful for Dr. Winiarski and the rest of the Religious Studies department for their hand in my current growth as a student and a person."

Congratulations, Matthew and Natalie!


Written by Emily Peebles, Academic Administrative Coordinator, Department of Religious Studies.