Biblical Literates

The following post by Russell McCutcheon, reflecting on the role of scholars in Religious Studies, is reposted from the Culture on the Edge blog. That was the headline of a Huffington Post article yesterday, referring to an op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register, co-authored by three Iowa scholars of religion, all with specialties in biblical studies. The newspaper article they wrote opened by stating: […]

Read More from Biblical Literates

The Challenge of the Humanities

Over the past year, the department’s series of reflections about the relevance of the Humanities and Social Sciences left me with the impression that articulating that relevance is quite difficult. We can discuss specific research topics that we see as being relevant, and we can discuss the translation of particular skills that our students gain for different job markets, but those more immediate payoffs become hard to generalize across the different approaches and assumptions within these varied fields. […]

Read More from The Challenge of the Humanities

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

One of the curious items from today’s announcement from the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down at the end of February was that he made his announcement, at a meeting of Cardinals, in Latin. So few reporters there understood Latin that it gave quite a competitive advantage to Giovanna Chirri, who works for ANSA (Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata), Italy’s main news wire service. As noted on the UK’s The Guardian real-time news blog: […]

Read More from Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

So Madison Avenue Made a Farmer…

It’s not news to anyone to hear about the decline of the family-owned farm in the U.S. For example, consider this chart, from a 2007 article (click the graphic to go to the article), which tracks the dramatic increase in farm size, over the past 50 years, coupled with the equally dramatic decline in the total number of farms: […]

Read More from So Madison Avenue Made a Farmer…

Critical Thinking Begins at Home

A letter came out recently from the President-elect of the main U.S. professional society for scholars who study religion concerning the conference theme for the 2014 meeting in San Diego: “Climate Change and the Coming Global Crisis: Religions and Responses” (read the full letter here [PDF]). Taking the letter as one’s object of study–since we, as scholars, are just as human, and thus our artifacts are just as interesting, as those we usually study, no?–provides an interesting moment in just […]

Read More from Critical Thinking Begins at Home

For the Sake of Public Discourse

Politicians continue to attack the Humanities and Social Sciences, most recently the governor of North Carolina reportedly asserted, “I don’t want to subsidize that [gender studies] if that’s not going to get someone a job.” While other posts on this blog (for example “You Just Watch Me” and “I Wonder What Caitlin Makes”) have challenged the assumption that Humanities and Social Science graduates have problems with employment, particular aspects of current public discourse clearly suggest that the skills that majors in the Humanities […]

Read More from For the Sake of Public Discourse

Yes, Virginia…

One of our majors (also minoring in Judaic Studies) posted the following on our student association’s Facebook page earlier today (re-posted here with her permission): Leaving aside, for the time being, the issue of whether personality, aptitude, and IQ tests actually tell us anything concrete about individuals (as opposed either to generalized conclusions about wide groups or the assumptions and values of those who make the tests), we can at least say that, yes, Virginia, there is a major like […]

Read More from Yes, Virginia…

Stars Upon Thars

“This so-called real world is the same place we’ve always been, of course….” So said Greg Johnson, in the close to his public lecture the other day (read the conclusion to his paper here). This is an exceedingly important point, I think; the university as a whole, and of course the Humanities in particular, are often accused of being disengaged from this real world; the privileged, “ivory tower” (a phrase we get from the Song of Solomon–hardly a working class […]

Read More from Stars Upon Thars