Departmental Honors and Prizes

Departmental Honors

Each year, no more than 10% of graduating students in the Department of Religion are awarded departmental honors, which will be recorded on their final transcript. In order to be considered, students must receive the mark of Distinction on their senior thesis and maintain a departmental grade-point average of 3.66 or above. Writing a senior thesis qualifies students for consideration for departmental honors, but does not assure it.

Peter Awn Undergraduate Prize

Established by the Departments of Religion at Columbia and Barnard in memory of Peter Awn, Professor of Religion, this prize is awarded annually to the most outstanding paper or substantial project submitted by an undergraduate in any course or seminar in Religion in the prior year.

This prize honors our colleague Peter Awn’s inspired teaching and his dedication to promoting and celebrating creative inquiry.

Submissions will be accepted until Friday, March 24th, 2024. 


The prize committee will consider papers or other original projects written or created for a course in the Columbia and Barnard Department of Religion in the last calendar year (e.g. in  Spring 2023 or Fall 2023 for the 2024 award).

The call for submissions is typically made in February, and the prize is announced in mid-April.

Submissions must be:

  • authored by an undergraduate currently enrolled, in any college (GS, Columbia, Barnard, SEAS)
  • a paper be between 10-25 pages in length (excluding cover page and bibliography/references)
  • OR a creative project of similar effort (e.g. end of term projects including creative or using alternate media, e.g. podcasts, videos)
  • submitted electronically (papers should be submitted as a .pdf document)
  • include a cover sheet with the author's name, title, and a notation of the course and instructor for which it was written.
  • note: students may submit one stand-alone chapter of their senior thesis for consideration. The committee will not consider essays written for mid-term or final examinations

Submissions can be sent to: Eric Meyer at [email protected]

Prize Recipients

2023, Lily Conable, Barnard College, Class of 2023, "Imagining Ancient Textual Lives: Rewriting and Reinterpreting the Provenance of The Thunder: Perfect Mind (NHC VI)" & Jane McBride, Columbia College, Class of 2023, "Enchanting Writing: The Writer and Her Craft as Inherently Paradoxical"

2022, Natalie Cimino, General Studies, Class of 2022, "AI Am Just Like You"

2021, Alethea Harnish, Columbia College, Class of 2024, "The Foundation of Roses"

2020, Grace Holleman, Barnard College, Class of 2021, “Imperio, Impressibility, and Imperialism: Mesmerism and Social Control”