Featured Religion Student


Chase Knowles, PhD in Religion

Photo of Chase Knowles

Chase Laurelle Knowles is earning a Ph.D. in Religion at CGU, focused on the History of Christianity and Religions in North America. Concurrently, she is also working towards an M.A. in Islamic Studies. Her dissertation will explore how the religious culture of the United States has shaped its foreign policy towards Iran since World War II.

Ms. Knowles’ interest in the Middle East, as well as the relationship between American religion, violence, and international relations, began in the first quarter of her freshman year at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). On a whim, she signed up for a 1-unit seminar called “Islamic Government.” She was so fascinated that she subsequently enrolled in every course she could fit in her schedule that focused on Islam and the history of the Middle East. These studies deepened and complemented her pre-existing interests in US national security and foreign policy. Soon, a vocational passion was born: to bring an authentic and nuanced understanding of Islam and the Middle East to American policymakers.

To this end, she has spent two summers in Washington, DC, working for the US Department of Defense on issues related to Iraq. In the future, she hopes to return to DC to pursue opportunities in consulting, and at foreign policy-focused think tanks. Additionally, she intends to pursue a career as a university professor, researcher, and non-fiction author.

Ms. Knowles is the recipient of numerous academic honors, including the UCLA Distinguished Senior Award, the UCLA Chancellor’s Service Award, and CGU’s Claremont National Scholars fellowship. The transdisciplinary nature of her dissertation topic has broken new ground and led her to form productive working relationships with academics in disciplines outside her “home field” of religious studies, such as psychology, cultural studies, and literature. Indeed, part of what has made CGU such a great environment for her is its continued pursuit of transdisciplinary excellence, and its enthusiastic support for new and creative approaches to academia.

You are welcome to follow her on Twitter @ChaseLaurelle (https://twitter.com/ChaseLaurelle), where she tweets continuous updates on news and analysis related to religion, violence, and international politics, with a special focus on US-Middle East relations.



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