Carol Ferrara

Our Students

Carol Ferrara

Matriculated September 2011

Carol’s research interests include religion and piety in secular societies, religious education, Islam, Catholicism, civic engagement, and interfaith relations, with a geographical focus on Europe.  Carol’s dissertation research analyzes the various ways that Catholics and Muslims, as members of the two largest religious groups in France, learn to balance being devout participants of their faith as well as engaged co-citizens of the secular French Republic.  She performed ethnographic fieldwork in Paris, Lyon, and Lille, France in 2013 and 2014, exploring France’s Muslim high schools, Catholic catechism courses, Islamic education courses, and attending interfaith and community events. Her research focused on public ethical discourses and the internalization of certain “modes de vie” – understood as sociabilities, models of religious practice and engagement, interpretations of laïcité, and understandings of how to coexist in plural France. The project aims to contribute to our anthropological understanding of the role of religious and secular education institutions in religious subject formation and modes of community and national “belonging” among pious populations in secular societies.


Carol is also a member of the University of Notre Dame’s Contending Modernities research team “Public Ethics and Citizenship in Plural Societies.” This branch of the broader Contending Modernities project is co-sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame and the Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs (CURA) at Boston University.


Her Master’s research included a quantitative and qualitative study of education about religion (or lack thereof) in public and private (Muslim and Catholic) high schools in Paris, France and its correlation with student religious tolerance and understanding. Her study is published in the Journal of Religious Education (see below).



Ferrara, Carol. “Religious Tolerance and Understanding in the French Education System.” Religious Education: The official journal of the Religious Education Association. 107 (5) (2012): 514-530.



  • Muslim Studies Fellowship
  • Long-term GRAF