What are you reading, watching, thinking about this week? As usual, here’s a few which have been on our mind. Let us know your thoughts on any/all of them. If you have items you’d like us to consider for the top five, add them in the comments or send them to Tom or Mike.
1. Why Harvard Students Should Study More Religion (Lisa Miller, Newsweek): A look at Harvard’s (lack of) religion in its undergraduate curriculum, with special attention to Louis Menand’s attempt to include a course called “Reason and Faith” in Harvard’s revised education requirements. The article quotes a couple of very interesting, and very different, points of view;
“My colleagues fear that taking religion seriously would undermine everything a great university stands for,” the Rev. Peter Gomes, Harvard’s chaplain and a professor of Christian history, told me. “I think that’s ungrounded, but there it is.”Steven Pinker says his main objection to the 2006 proposal that students be required to take a course in a Reason and Faith category was that it seemed to make reason and faith equal paths to truth. “I very, very, very much do not want to go on the record as suggesting that people should not know about religion,” he told me. “But reason and faith are not yin and yang. Faith is a phenomenon. Reason is what the university should be in the business of fostering.”
2. More religion in higher education: Inside Higher Ed featured two opinion articles about the role of religion and theology in academic disciplines – “On Teaching Christianity” by Adam Kosko, who argues that religion classes need to spend more time studying the actual theology of religious figures and movements; and “Everywhere and Nowhere” by Kevin Schultz and Paul Harvey, which takes another look at the place of religion within historical studies.
More links after the jump.
4. Godly Play; Superman’s Staying Power (Nina Ayoub, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/14/2010) briefly looks at Toying With God: The World of Religious Games and Dolls (Nikki Bado-Fralick and Rebecca Sachs Norris, Baylor University Press, 2010) and Our Hero: Superman on Earth (Tom De Haven, Yale University Press, 2010). Both books look of interest as we approach Easter. But why does the Chronicle of Higher Education combine them in this short review? [Bonus link: Adherents.com has a fascinating list of the religious affiliations of comic book characters. Superman? Methodist. Batman and the Hulk? Both lapsed Catholics. The Thing? Jewish.]
5. Can denial of promotion and tenure cause the kind of rage that drives people to violence? receives attention in Professionalize Promotion and Tenure (David D. Perlmutter, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2010). The piece is well written and at this point the comments share some difficult stories in a civil manner. Note: Recommend that you regularly follow Perlmutter’s writing which can be found in the Advise section, along with a lot of other helpful material.
The premise of my monthly column on promotion and tenure in The Chronicle is that most disciplines do an excellent job of training their doctoral graduates to be researchers, and a reasonable job of training them to be teachers, but a spotty to indifferent job of training them to be professors. Over and over again, I have met, talked with, heard from, and read about assistant professors who may be brilliant in their subfield but are clueless about the human relations, politics, planning, bureaucratic, and time-management aspects of our profession.
Yes, just the type of material that the Emerging Scholars Network desires to point people toward AND this article does an excellent job wrestling with the issues. Be sure to read the comments.
Tom and his upcoming ESN seminar with Donald Kraybill made the news! Here’s Kraybill discussing his topic, “The Sociology of Faith”:
“Each academic discipline raises different questions for (Christians who are involved in those disciplines),” he explained. “I’ll be talking about some of the issues I’ve struggled with as a Christian and as a sociologist (and about) the ways that I, as a Christian, can teach sociology.” He added that he will focus on ways that individuals can work through issues such as the ones he experienced.
If you’re in central Pennsylvania, you should definitely consider attending.