# 10 Years

Mike highlights “must reads” at Urbana09.

Ten years ago, Tom Grosh IV and I launched the Emerging Scholars Blog. When Tom called me recently to talk about this milestone, I was honestly surprised that the blog had made it that long. This website started as an experiment to connect members of the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN) — students, faculty, and independent scholars around the world, joined by a common faith in Christ and commitment to the life of the mind. There had been previous attempts to use websites to connect ESN members through forums and email, but they had not proven sustainable.  Like the physical third places that we share, online communities require ongoing maintenance and care to stay healthy. They must also justify their existence and attract regulars. Most third places — coffee shops, libraries, bowling alleys, pubs — have a clear reason for returning again and again. What would lead someone to return to a website?

Bill Gates knew the answer in 1996 — Content is King, he wrote in an essay announcing the formation of MSNBC. In 2008, I was an avid reader of blogs, often through the dearly departed Google Reader. My favorite blogs, such as GetReligion and Boing Boing, continually drew me back with, yes, great content, but also strong writers’ voices and the online communities and friendships that grew up around these blogs. These communities were my inspiration for the Emerging Scholars Blog.

Tom Grosh IV and Hannah Eagleson with ESN writers Bob Kaita and Andy Walsh.

Under the guidance of Tom Grosh IV and Hannah Eagleson, the Emerging Scholars Blog has grown in ways that I could not have imagined. They have assembled a large, diverse, and distinguished list of regular contributors, a testament to their editorial hospitality. They have crafted an unique online “third place” for discussions about faith, scholarship, and academic careers. I have been blessed by their work, and I am thankful for their legacy.

May God bless the Emerging Scholars Blog and all who read, write, and gather around this website!

Hannah with four of the 73 students at the 2018 American Scientific Affiliation Annual Meetings. What a joy for Hannah and Tom not only to meet a number of Emerging Scholars in person for the first time, but also to reconnect with members such as Laura and May — on Hannah’s left (i.e., our right as we face the photo). Note: May served on ESN’s Urbana15 liveblogging team. If you’re interested in joining ESN’s Urbana18 liveblogging team or writing for the blog in general, drop ESN a line. Thank-you.

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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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6 Comments

  • hannaheagleson@gmail.com'
    Hannah Eagleson commented on August 21, 2018 Reply

    Hi Mike, Thanks for this beautiful reflection, and for all the work you put into building the ESN blog and helping it grow! You and Tom have done so much to build ESN over the years, and as a newer team member, I am deeply thankful. – Hannah

  • Tom Grosh IV commented on August 21, 2018 Reply

    What a privilege it has been not only to “get in” on the ground level of this experiment with you Mike, but also to see this online “third place” mature into a vital part of identifying, encouraging, and equipping Christian scholars to be redeeming influences in higher education (and beyond).

    The opportunity to extend / deepen the influence of the Gospel through missional digital ministry across the 15 year academic arc has sent me to conferences, kept me up past my bedtime (once again last night), and woken me up in the morning with a joy-filled passion. I never would have guessed such a call by the Lord on my life for a season of ministry. Thank-you for the invitation in Summer 2008! Great to stay connected with you across a number of platforms for over a decade. Keep pressing on in the upward hope of Christ Jesus. To God be the glory!

    PS. I can’t sign off before sharing that I’ll never forget your “March Madness” for “The Best Christian Book of All Time,” https://blog.emergingscholars.org/2013/04/the-best-christian-book-of-all-time-the-winner/. A slam dunk followed by solid additional reflections on the importance of reading a year later: https://blog.emergingscholars.org/2014/02/the-best-christian-book-of-all-time-one-year-later/. Excellent work Mike. A blessing to many, including me. Yes, people still mention it to me on their own initiative 🙂

  • Kle.seaton@gmail.com'
    Kelly Seaton commented on August 21, 2018 Reply

    Wow, 10 years! Time flies. A blessing to be a part of it and to learn from such a diverse and wonderful group of people.

  • drandrewwalsh@gmail.com'
    Andy Walsh commented on August 22, 2018 Reply

    Mike – Thanks for seeing the value in virtual third places. I’ve made connections with many fantastic folks (yourself included) solely because of the existence of the this blog. May the seeds you sowed 10 years ago continue to bear fruit as they have done for so many already.

    (I also join you in lamenting the passing of Google Reader.)

  • hannaheagleson@gmail.com'
    Hannah Eagleson commented on August 22, 2018 Reply

    Mike, I also have to concur with Tom that your March Madness posts are legendary! They’re a fun and thoughtful part of ESN history, and they’re definitely still generating great conversations and ideas.

  • vosburg@hmc.edu'
    davosburg commented on August 22, 2018 Reply

    I’ve definitely been blessed over the 10 years as a reader and a (minor) contributor! Thanks!

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