I had the pleasure to interview Professor Koertner who focuses on Islamic studies. To get a broad view of why chose to work in the religion department, I asked the following question: Why did you choose this field? Professor Koertner lived in Egypt starting the fall of 2001 and was a political science major. Because Egypt was predominantly Islamic and there were flaws with the political system under Mubarak’s presidency, Professor Koertner learned and appreciated the religion. She was exposed to how the system deals with religion and realized that religion is an essential part of politics, economics, military, etc. The basis of the religion must be understood before any political decision can be made because it affects the people’s lives towards how they approach it. Consequently, she changed her position from approaching a political science career to a religion career so that individuals can understand the basis of any governmental action nationally and internationally.
I then asked Professor Koertner about the research field and was intrigued by her response. Her past research of the time gap in the 13th century of manuscripts involved traveling to some Middle Eastern countries. The libraries in those countries consisted of primary sources that can only be obtained within those countries compared to the internet. Now, it is hard for her to obtain such sources because of the political crisis occurring in those countries. Professor Koertner also shared that she contacted an organization in Syria requesting a copy of a manuscript, but she never got called back or a denied notification. She believes that it may be because of her American identity. In addition, doing research in the religion field is difficult because there are not as many journals affiliated with religion as of anthropology, political science, economics, etc. There are limited primary sources online.