Week in Review: Culture Gaps, Identity, Transitions

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. More on Waltke: Christianity Today has published a summary of the story of Bruce Waltke’s resignation and reactions to it. If you remember, ESN posted a long summary of the situation with many links.

2. Putting Abortion on the Curriculum: In the Chronicle, Teresa J. Hornsby (a Biblical studies professor at Drury U.) writes about her experience leading an interdisciplinary working group exploring ways to deal with abortion in the classroom – not just as part of a planned curriculum, but also when it might arise unexpectedly because of the personal lives of students. As you might expect, the “culture gap” between academia and conservative Christians enters the conversation:

We tried to discuss our project with representatives of local and national pro-life organizations, which proved difficult. I wanted to gather as much information as possible, to hear all points of view, and, perhaps, identify some local representatives who could come into the classroom. But they were, in general, reluctant to speak to us; I suspect they mistrusted academics.

The article has some interesting suggestions on how to discuss controversial topics in a civil manner: finding language that everyone is comfortable with, using stories of real people, starting with more “distant” examples from other cultures or time periods before moving to contemporary issues. As a counter-example of how not to discuss abortion in the classroom, consider this 2006 incident, in which a Northern Kentucky U. faculty member used a British Lit class to encourage vandalism against an on-campus anti-abortion display.

3.  What is your identity and how do you share who you are on-line?  Is on-line reputation a greater concern for those in a public vocation such as higher education?

Reputation management has now become a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young. While some internet users are careful to project themselves online in a way that suits specific audiences, other internet users embrace an open approach to sharing information about themselves and do not take steps to restrict what they share. Search engines and social media sites play a central role in building one’s reputation online, and many users are learning and refining their approach as they go — changing privacy settings on profiles, customizing who can see certain updates and deleting unwanted information about them that appears online. — Managing Your Online Profile:  How People Monitor Their Internet Identity and Search for Others Online (Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and Aaron Smith, Research Specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project, 5/26/2010).

4.  Transitions for tenure track professors.  What would you add to, clarify, or desire to learn about on these lists of recommendations (as a follower of Christ and/or academic)?

  • Open Letter to 2010-11‘s Newly-Tenured Professors (Nels P. Highberg, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/27/2010)
    • In a nutshell, I’d like to offer this final thought from a ProfHacker reader: “Remember how lucky we are, and be nice to the department’s secretary.” Good advice, indeed.
  • Open Letter to 2010-11‘s First-Time Tenure-Track Professors (Billie Hara, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/20/2010)
    • If you could offer one piece of advice to an incoming faculty member, what would it be?


Lamppost at dawn, Kings College, Cambridge (Photo: Nigel Cooke via Flickr)

5.  “What place is there for religion within the University? Is there a place for God on the Quad or should we have no God on the Quad? … What is the connection between religion, intellectual diversity, and scholarship?” — If you haven’t already done such, swing by God on the Quad? (RJS) – Jesus Creed for conversation on the typologies of interaction of faith and science from Elaine Ecklund’s new book Science vs Religion: What Scientists Really ThinkNote to faculty: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s quarterly faculty newsletter The Lamp Post provides articles of theological reflection audio downloads of speakers like Dallas Willard and Cal DeWitt, practical resources for faculty communities, updates on events (local, regional, and national), and much, much more.  To learn more about InterVarsity’s Faculty Ministry, click here.

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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