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Wabash Center Blogs
We support teachers of religion and theology in higher education.
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HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Ph.D. Lydia Gruchy Professor of Pastoral Studies St. Andrew’s College (Saskatoon) In my “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible” syllabus, a couple of sessions are reserved for the Exodus story: its claims about liberation; the use of official “war gear” against civilians; the dread of nightfall; legislative debates; witness accounts to the sights and sounds of violence; the importance of memory, etc. “After” Ferguson, teaching this biblical story almost sounds too convenient. Yet, engaging race and racism is like solving a math equation: long division with remainders. The burden of structural racism is not just its deadly power,... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Dean J. Johnson, Ph.D. Peace & Conflict Studies Assistant Professor of Philosophy West Chester University of Pennsylvania Silence, guilt and fear are obstacles to justice and democracy. My white brothers and sisters, we have often let the fear of breaking the rules of certain types of discourse trap us. Too often we let fear immobilize us and we remain silent. Let’s take for example the fear of talking and teaching about race as a white person. We believe the discourse of whiteness that says racism and the struggle for racial justice are not white problems and/or that whites are... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Roger Nam At first glance, the public restrooms at the Sogang University Graduate School of Theology look just like the restrooms on any seminary campus in America. But as I approached the men’s room, I saw a paper sign taped to the wall, identifying the restroom as “for professor usage... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Stories from the Front
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Anthony G. Reddie, Ph.D. Tutor & Coordinator for Community Learning Bristol Baptist College, UK One of my earliest experiences was my first day at school in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in The United Kingdom. Sitting in what was the equivalent of the reception or the beginner's class, I suddenly felt an intense pain in my right arm. I turned around to find that I was being bitten by this White boy sitting next to me. When I asked him why he had bitten me, he said "I wanted to see what colour blood you have. My nan (colloqualism for Grandmother) says... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Rev. Dr. Mitzi J. Smith, Ph.D. Associate Professor of New Testament & Early Christian Studies Ashland Theological Seminary/Detroit Center One day in 2009 after President Obama took office, I walked into my Greek exegesis class at Ashland Theological Seminary in Detroi t and one of two white male students asked, “Dr. Smith, don’t you think we live in a post-racial society given we have elected a black President and here I am sitting in your class a black female with a Harvard Ph.D.?” I didn’t doubt my student’s sincerity. I’d like to think that he felt safe enough in that space... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Kate Blanchard (Ph.D., Duke University) Associate Professor of Religious Studies Alma College It’s late summer in North America. The days are breezy, the nights are cool. Students in athletics t-shirts and shower shoes shuffle around campus. Here in Alma the intermittent sounds of marching bands, coaches’ whistles, and bagpipes hover... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Ella Johnson, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry I didn’t plan to bring it up. In fact, I had made a conscious decision to not talk about it. But, in the middle of class, I said something. I had to. I still wonder if I made the right decision. August 27 was the first day of my Theology of Church and Ministry class. I was prepared with a list of learning objectives I wanted to accomplish: introductions to the class and to each other; review of the course outline; overview of the scope... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Andre E. Johnson, Ph.D. Dr.James L Netters Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Religion and African American Studies Memphis Theological Seminary I had already completed the syllabus. The required textbook, reading assignments, videos, and other class material already assigned. Matter of fact, I had already sent the syllabus out to the students so they could get an early start on the reading. Everything was done and after my trip to the National Summit on Race in Chicago, I looked forward to having at least a couple of weeks off before the school year started. Then Ferguson happened and I knew... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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It may seem premature to offer this blog at the beginning of an academic year, but the fact is most deans who are leaving office will have announced their departure from that role with a year's notice. If that's the case for you, you've turned in your graciously-worded resignation letter... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Nyasha Junior, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible Howard University School of Divinity Visit her website: www.nyashajunior.com I am organized. I have to-do lists, stop-doing lists, someday lists, and checklists galore. When it’s time to prep for the semester, I pull up my teaching Excel spreadsheet and get to work. Order books. Revise syllabus. Set up BlackBoard. And request to be assigned to my favorite sunny classroom. I had my lecture ready for the first day of my Introduction to Old Testament/Hebrew Bible class. It is a combination of welcome, syllabus review, and class overview while channeling Lou Gossett, Jr.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
This blog is being started in response to the need for a forum on race and teaching theology and religion in the wake of the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent protests and police response in Ferguson, Missouri. However, we have purposively framed the blog more broadly than this single incident. Teaching for racial and social justice, dismantling the structures of white privilege in academia, and diversifying the faculty, the students, and the canon, are abiding concerns of the Wabash Center and many of our colleagues in the WabashNation. We invite authors to send us 500 to 750... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Eric Barreto (Ph.D., Emory University) Associate Professor of New Testament Luther Seminary I first discovered that I loved to teach when I was 19 years old at the front of a classroom of 70 adolescents in the city of Urumqi, a huge city in northwest China. Supposedly, I was teaching... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Roger Nam (Ph.D., UCLA) Visiting Professor, Sogang University, Graduate School of Theology (Seoul, Korea) Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, George Fox Evangelical Seminary (on sabbatical) I will always remember my first time in the front of a class back in 2006. It was a small classroom, seminar style. The magical... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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New deans come into the office of Chief Academic Officer in varied ways. Some aspire to the work, others are called, some are pressed into service, and some poor souls are voted in during a missed Faculty meeting. While larger theological schools often have the luxury of searching and securing... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Management is easy, leadership is hard. Most theological school deans can get up to speed on educational program management in relatively short order. It takes about three to four years to learn the finer aspects of the job, but, given the press of the immediate, effective deans get good, real... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Smaller theological schools face distinct challenges. One of those challenges is how to provide coverage for a comprehensive theological curriculum while maintaining a reasonable teaching load for elected faculty members while also providing for student needs. Another is finding qualified and competent adjunct faculty to provide needed coverage while guarding... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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The formative assessment of academic programs is one of the fundamental tasks of deans. Deans must focus on the "big picture," working with program-level metrics often out of the scope (and interest) of others in the institution. Big picture program issues include attention to the school's student body graduation profile.... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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At this time of the year, semester's end, while Faculty wistfully anticipate taking advantage of the three best things about teaching (June, July, and August), many deans are turning their attention to wrapping up the academic year. End-of-term activities take up much of the dean's time: aggregating course evaluations, determining... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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I have a couple of friends who are really into "Talk Like a Pirate Day" (September 19 in case you're wondering). One dresses up like a pirate for the day (in Johnny Depp "Pirates of the Caribbean" style) and plays the part to the hilt, sometimes visiting local elementary schools... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Jeanne P. McLean's seminal work on the role of the academic dean as an act of "leading from the center" is apt and resonates with those of us who have experienced the job. But in the whirlwind of the experience of leading form the center, one may well ask, "the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Willie Niegro was the shipping supervisor at the warehouse where I worked summers during high school. He'd been there over 20 years, overseeing the shipping of crates and pallets out the truck bays at the rear of the warehouse. He was a cheerful character and took pride in his work.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Deans sometimes have a tough time saying "No." Many just need to be liked too much and few want to be seen as the resident Scrooge who is miserly with resources. Yet, there is no end of requests that come across the dean's desk. It's not uncommon for a dean... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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I have been a lifelong doodler. In fact, my college class notes look more like sketchbooks than notebooks (and the doodles are the only reason I’ve kept some of my college notes). Even today pencil and sketchpad are not far from reach in the event an idle moment provides opportunity... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2014 at Theological School Deans
As “Chief Academic Officers” (CAO) theological school deans provide oversight for the development of an effective curriculum. They are challenged to lead Faculty to develop a course of study that can demonstrably prepare clergy and church leaders for the current, and future, needs and challenges of the Church and church-related... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Theological school deans wear many hats, and, depending on the context, some more than others: administrator, supervisor, assessor, policies and accreditation compliance officer, faculty cat-herder, student advisor, pastoral counselor and resident chaplain. One key role for the theological school dean is that of educational leader. Often, that means being the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2013 at Theological School Deans