By Kat Palczewski | April 2013

Anthony Hatinger decided to pursue a Religious Studies degree by answering his own question: "What kind of major can I take on that is an acculturation* major in which I get the best of all sorts of the humanities and can still help people?"

The Perfect Combination

Four years later, Anthony is ready to graduate with a Religious Studies major, Horticulture minor, and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems specialization. He found that the three uniquely complement each other when he took Religion and the Environment his sophomore year. He explains that the class inspired him to apply for his minor and specialization.

"It works together in a really interesting way. I find that religious studies is a very powerful cultural tool to understanding the history of humanity. And to go along with that, there's something to be said about different cultures and their food laws and dietary restrictions; the cultures of societies and empires were all based on what their food systems were."

Giving Back to Lansing

Last Summer, Anthony participated in the Power of We Consortium's AmeriCorps State program in which he served as an educator and coordinator for a youth gardening program at Edgewood Village, and helped market the Meridian County Township Farmer's Market's Double-Up Food Bucks Program. Anthony has also interned at Allen Neighborhood Center's Hunter Park Garden House and the Allen Street Farmer's Market.

Anthony explains, "The intersection that's strongest for me (between religion and horticulture) is humanitarian efforts. Having a religious studies background really opens up the doors for anything relating to community development, non-profit work, and government work. I think what was nice about that is I got to understand culture from a different viewpoint."

Educating Children Through the Garden

All of which is why Anthony plans to pursue a career in urban agriculture. He would like to advocate for and build a school-to-garden program in Detroit that will provide fresh food to cafeterias while also becoming part of the classroom curriculum. Anthony explains that the base knowledge skills he has taken away from the Religious Studies program will easily apply to anything he does.

"It's a transformative major. Anything that studies the human condition allows you to adapt it to what is fitting and suitable for your interests." He continues, "Religion is everywhere. Religion is global. What I found most interesting about my major is learning the history of the world through religion."

*"Acculturation" is the cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture.