Laura Johnson '17

Major: Religion

How did you decide to study religion?

Upon entering Luther, Laura hadn’t decided on a major. “I loved science,” she says, “but was also passionate about political science and philosophy, along with English and history.” She chose to major in religion during her sophomore year. “After taking the two required religion courses, I wanted to keep going,” she says. What intrigued Laura most was how Luther’s liberal arts approach to religious studies brought all of her interests together. “In any given class, we talk about politics, history, anthropology, and even science.”

Have you been involved in a research project?

The summer after her Junior year, Laura collaborated with professor Wanda Deifelt on a research project. They focused on female embodiment, women’s reproductive rights, and how religion contributes to the development of abortion policies. “Wanda and I drank lemonade on her porch and talked about women’s rights all summer,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better couple of months!”

What was your study abroad experience like?

Laura studied abroad during her junior year in Cape Town, South Africa. While there, she participated in a service-learning program. She took four classes, had an internship, and still had time for plenty of adventures. “My internship was with the South African Faith and Family Institute, an interfaith organization that works with religious leaders to address the country’s extremely high rates of sexual and domestic abuse,” she says. “I experienced what it’s like to work for a non-profit and connected with many of the social justice leaders in Cape Town.” She also worked closely with the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, a group that meets to address all forms of injustice. “Overall,” she says, “studying abroad was the best decision of my life.”

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

Laura thinks the best thing about the religion department is that it prepares students for a wide variety of careers after graduation. “I’ve been interested in how religion influences politics, and vice versa,” she says, “so I’m searching for jobs where I can work with social justice and policy.”

What’s fun to do in Decorah?

“I’m obsessed with Decorah,” Laura says. She especially enjoys going to local restaurants, coffee shops, poetry slams, and farmers markets. “Coming from the Twin Cities, I didn’t expect to love a little Iowa town so much,” she says.