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Altman Engages

September 18, 2015 4:30 PM

Each year, Altman Scholars attend various events on campus and reflect, drawing connections between these scholarly presentations and the Altman curriculum. Altman Senior, Nate Benjamin, recently attended Dr. Ilan Tojerow's talk, "Reading, Writing, Arithmetic...and Religions?" This event was co-sponsored by the Altman Program and the Tulane Department of Jewish Studies. 

Dr. Tojerow presented his fascinating study on the correlation between religion and level of education. Dr. Tojerow pointed out at the beginning of his talk that education has been clearly shown to correlate with economic development around the globe, and therefore he wanted to see the effect of religion on education and, indirectly, economic development. 


Analyzed en masse, it seemed clear that certain religions had a positive or negative relation to education; Judaism, Protestantism, and no religious affiliation all had positive correlations, whereas Islam had a negative correlation. But Dr. Tojerow then broke the data down by religion and country. This breakdown showed that for each religion, 50-60% of the countries showed no significant relationship. In each country, religion ultimately affected the populace differently. Therefore, Dr. Tojerow's results study revealed that each religion has cases of positive, negative, and no correlation.


Lastly, Dr. Tojerow showed a number of factors that change how religion affects education. Of these, being a minority was the most impactful; if a religious group also coincided with being a minority, this blocked the usual effect of religion on education.


Overall, Dr. Tojerow's talk was fascinating to me. While religions are global phenomena, they have differing effects and traditions throughout the world. The data from his study demonstrated the nuanced and complex differences between societies. 


Altman students strive to understand the connections between cultural traditions and the global economy. Dr. Tojerow's talk provided a great example of the ways in which culture can effect a nation's economy!