Alumni Spotlight

A Conversation with Aaron Estes

Aaron Estes graduated from IU Bloomington in May 2014 with a BA in Religious Studies. Religious Studies major Emily Vetne talked with him to see what he liked about the department, how he uses his Religious Studies degree in his career, and to see if he had any advice for current RS majors.

Alumni News

In Memoriam

Gerald Larson

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of the Dhar India Studies Program's founding director and first Rabindranath Tagore Professor of Indian Cultures and Civilization, Gerald Larson, on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

Gerry came to IU in 1995 after retiring from a long career in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara. He not only was our first director, but he travelled relentlessly around the state of Indiana furthering the cause of the academic study of the subcontinent and raising funds to ensure that IU could continue to host India Studies for many years to come. He worked tirelessly with Indiana's Indian community, university leadership, faculty and students to create the foundation of what we now enjoy today as Dhar India Studies, creating a PhD minor and undergraduate major and minor, as well as a certificate program. He developed the first iteration of the India Studies “core course,” required for the major and the minor, as well as several other courses to add to the repertoire of Hindi and Sanskrit (and now, also Bengali and Urdu).​ Within a few years the program was vibrant enough to separate from its first home in the Religious Studies Department to stand on its own. Gerry retired (again) from IU as Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies in 2003 and continued to visit Bloomington from time to time to give a lecture and visit with his many friends in the area.

Gerry was the author of many books on classical Indian philosophy as well as on contemporary Indian religion (including India's Agony Over Religion, published in 1995). He continued his scholarly work through conference papers, lectures, and publications until his death. His specialty was the samkhya philosophical system, and we were fortunate to have him here with us just this past October for a wonderful celebration and discussion of his monumental work, published last year with Motilal Banarsidass, Classical Yoga Philosophy and the Legacy of Samkhya.

Gerry was a great friend to many of us here at IU and India Studies and will be sorely missed.

Rob Schoon

We are saddened to learn that Robert Schoon passed away on January 29, 2019. His undergraduate honors thesis, “The New Evolution of God: Prospects for Theistic Evolution” showcased his talents as a writer and thinker. Rob went on to pursue a Masters degree in Journalism at New York University. He returned to Bloomington and was employed as a Communications Specialist at IU. He also worked as a writer and editor, in addition to producing programming for Bloomington's community radio station, WFHB, on a volunteer basis. Rob will be sadly missed by many in Bloomington and the IU community.

Alumni Stories

A Conversation with Aaron Estes (BA '14)

A Conversation with Natalie Oliner (BA '12)

A Conversation with Jason BeDuhn (PhD '95)

photo of alum Nancy Hiller

Religious studies shape cabinetmaker’s writing and life
by Nancy Hiller, BA’93, MA’96

photo of alum Coleen Leahy
Religious Studies Alum Interns at NPR
Colleen Leahy, BA '14


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