“Less is better” is a dictum that doesn’t just haunt Matt Sheedy. I feel as though that spectral proverb from J.Z. Smith may apply as much to conferences as the classroom. The phrase resonates with my cultural heritage, too. There’s a cookbook title, famous among certain generations of Mennonites, that encapsulates the bent of that culture: “More-with-Less.”
Conferences come in a variety of sizes. Some are attended in the dozens to hundreds whereas others tip past the thousands. Each conference ranges between more and less in a variety of ways, but it seems to me that Smith’s pedagogy and my cultural heritage converge on the direct correlation between attendance and outcomes. The more the people, the less I appreciate the conference.
What follows is not theorizing that supports the claim, but anecdotal evidence accompanied by some ideas for action. Continue reading →
We asked the faculty what they were up to this summer; after all, just because the Spring semester is done doesn’t mean they’re all off gardening. And so this is what we learned…
This summer, Prof. Trost will be traveling to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, to ponder a possible project on pilgrimage and to meet with a person who is writing a chapter for the volume that he is editing. Then he will be in Thessaloniki, Greece, with Catherine Roach, who will be teaching a course as part of a Fulbright Scholars exchange. He plans to meet with academics who teach New Testament at Aristotle University with an eye toward future collaboration. Following this trip, he will be in London to meet with one of the co-editors of his book, Love Across the Atlantic.
We filmed parts of it (i.e., the two faculty lectures, by Profs. Altman and Trost, and the opening to the next night’s Grad Tales panel — featuring five grads who returned to help mark the occasion [scroll down here to see who they were]); these movies are now being produced in the main office. They’ll probably be posted in a few weeks. Continue reading →
Class registration is just around the corner, so advising for the next semesters (Interim, Summer, and Fall 2017) will take place beginning Monday, February 27 and will extend until Tuesday March 7. Continue reading →
Prof. Ted Trost will be taking over as the Department’s Undergraduate Director, (so students, be sure to schedule your next advising session with him!). In case you were wondering what the role of Undergraduate Director entails, Dr. Trost has taken the time to answer a few questions about his position.
What exactly does an “Undergraduate Director” do?
The undergraduate director works with the chair and the faculty to determine what courses will be offered each semester. My primary responsibility is to assist each student in determining the course of her or his study—mainly in the Religious Studies but also with an eye toward meeting all University requirements in order to graduate in a timely and convenient fashion. Toward that I end, I meet with each Religious Studies major every semester to plot out an itinerary through the wilderness of academic options and to clear students for registration. I also keep apprised of developments in the Registrar’s office and initiatives throughout the University that affect course offerings and advising protocols.
What sorts of questions or problems can you help students with?
I advise students about the courses we offer from semester to semester and help them decide what shape to give their Religious Studies major. I am familiar with the specialties of all the faculty members and, therefore, can recommend particular courses to take and independent study options to pursue.
Dr. Kevin Schilbrack (pictured above, right) is a professor of Religious Studies and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University. He was recently at the University of Alabama for the inaugural workshop for public university Religious Studies department chairs and offers the following report.
Like many other department chairs, I suspect, I became chair after years of teaching, writing, and generally being collegial – but I received little or no training on how to be a chair. And the work as chair of a department of Religious Studies in a public university comes with its own particular set of issues. What does the study of religions include when it is in a state-supported setting? Where can we profitably collaborate with other disciplines? And perhaps, above all, how can we recruit new students to the academic study of religions? To create a forum where department chairs could meet and work on questions like these, we came together for what we hope is the first annual workshop for chairs of departments of Religious Studies. Continue reading →
REL loves to recognize award winners (have you seen our recent Honors Day post?), and so congratulations are in order for our own Prof. Theodore Trost, who was recently named as a College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Teaching Fellow. Ted is only the second REL professor to be given this honor since the award was established in 1986. Continue reading →
Now that spring break is here, we know our students have only one thing on their minds — Fall classes!
So, when classes resume after the break, we will begin our advising period in the Department; REL majors and minors, and JS minors, will need to set up a meeting with Dr. Trost (filling in for Dr. Jacobs, who is on sabbatical this semester) on the clipboard in the main office.
Wondering what classes we’re offering? Well take a look here (PDF) at the newly posted course list for Fall 2015, complete with descriptions! The flyers are hot off the press, so pick up one in the main office when you’re back from Spring break.
“Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.
Where are you from?
I went to elementary school in Pennsylvania, junior high school in New York, and high school in Michigan. After completing college in Michigan, I lived in England, California, and Massachusetts before coming to Tuscaloosa. Having lived in the American east, north, and west, I now live in the south. In fact, I have officially resided in Tuscaloosa for 16 years—many years longer than anywhere else I have ever lived. So I am from Tuscaloosa. Continue reading →