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Welcome to the Real World: thoughts from a religious studies perspective

September 4, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at or 608-363-2849

Where and what is “the real world?” Who gets to decide, and on what basis?

Natalie Gummer, professor of religious studies, posed these questions during her 2013 Convocation address.

She warned that the connotation of the phrase “the real world” is problematic, and argued that colleges like Beloit should be considered part of "the real world" as opposed to above it.

“…All the things we study−no matter how apparently obscure or impractical they may seem at first glance−have potential relevance and value in the world and in our own lives,” Gummer said. “Practicing the liberal arts means challenging ourselves to articulate and actualize that relevance and value in how we choose to live and work, with and for others.”

To hear Gummer’s speech in its entirety, click here.

SOURCE: Natalie Gummer is a professor of religious studies with a doctorate from Harvard University. A literary and cultural historian of Buddhism, she studies the intersection of textual practices and ethics in pre-modern Mahāyāna Buddhist literary cultures. She teaches courses in comparative religion and Asian religions, and she contributes actively to Asian studies, interdisciplinary studies, and international education on campus. She is also a co-director of Beloit's first- and second-year programs. Gummer can serve as a media resource on topics related to her research and teaching interests.