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Three Notes on Scholarship and Teaching from the AAR/SBL Annual Meetings

(Eric)

I’ve started wondering recently if scholarship boils down to the courage to say something aloud, the courage to say something in the midst of a chorus full of others saying similar or different things. This same description could well be applied to teaching as well. There are a number of reasons why our scholarship and our teaching should be mutually reinforcing, but my experience and that of many of my friends in the profession is that this is not the case. One scholarly obligation too easily cannibalizes the other. 

At my best, my scholarship both feeds and is fed by my teaching. The things I have written can Eric
provide students a clear starting point for their study so that our class time can focus on integration and the construction of new insights. Plus, as we teachers know full well, teaching something is the best way to learn something. We also know that students can sometimes ask the right question that will send us along a path of discovery. Teaching can be that imaginative spark of the scholar. Scholarship can be that imaginative spark of the teacher. And yet many of us will find ourselves reading lofty papers full of brilliant ideas this weekend at the SBL/AAR meetings but rarely finding a way to teach this awesome stuff to our students.

I have no magical solutions to resolving this tension so many of us feel between thriving as teachers and scholars alike. But the first step may be to say (and perhaps even believe or hope against hope) that these duties of the professoriate ought not be at odds. What makes for fine teaching and scholarship alike is the boldness to say something.

Kate
(Kate)
I have so far not been very successful at integrating research and teaching. My scholarship seems so specialized, and our Religious Studies department is so small (only 1.5 full-timers) that it seems almost too luxurious to teach what I actually study. Instead, I generally try to offer classes that I think students will want to take. In my first year of teaching, I taught a Religion and Economics class (based on my dissertation research) to only six students; even our business majors weren't interested. And just this week, the course I had planned to teach on environmental ethics was cancelled due to under-enrollment, despite my talking it up with colleagues in relevant departments. I tend to get the best enrollment in more general courses like World Religions, Christianity, or Women and Religion. The Christian ethics topics seem to be alienating for Alma Students... or maybe it's just me. Does anyone else in the undergraduate world have this problem?

(Roger)
This is really a bad confession, but when I began teaching as a PhD student, I planned class content Rogeraround my comps and dissertation. The reasoning was purely pragmatic. Teaching can take a lot of time, and I figured that this could save me a few crucial hours every week. To my surprise, these two years of adjuncting as a doctoral student was a wonderful lesson in the integration of teaching and scholarship. The outpouring of new literature on biblical studies is enormous, but for the sake of our students, responsible teachers must stay on top of these trends at least somewhat. It’s certainly much easier to do when you are preparing a literature review. I think students can tell when their teachers are in discourse within greater academic discourse. Unfortunately, the constant name-dropping that I do probably might be a part of that.

 

Eric D. Barreto

About Eric D. Barreto

Eric Barreto, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Luther Seminary. Eric lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife Holley and two beautiful children. He loves great food, the recent TV renaissance, travelling, and Minnesota's fabulous summers. He is the author of Ethnic Negotiations: The Function of Race and Ethnicity in Acts 16(Mohr Siebeck, 2010) and the co-author of New Proclamation Year C 2013: Easter through Christ the King(Augsburg Fortress, 2013). These days, he is working on a book on the theology of ethnicity of Acts and how it might shape biblical imagination around diversity in churches today. He is also a regular contributor at the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-eric-d-barreto/) and hosts a monthly podcast on EnterTheBible.org.  For more, go toericbarreto.com and follow him on Twitter(https://twitter.com/ericbarreto).

Kate Blanchard

About Kate Blanchard

Kate Blanchard, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Alma College Kate is currently on sabbatical near Atlanta doing a collaborative project with Dr. Kevin O'Brien (a friend from her pre-tenure workshop) about Christian ethics and free market environmentalism. When not on sabbatical, she makes her home in Alma, Michigan, with her husband, Rev. Chris Moody, and their son, Gus, a dinosaur and train connoisseur. She has taught at Alma College since graduating from Duke in 2006. She is the author of The Protestant Ethic or the Spirit of Capitalism: Christians, Freedom, and Free Markets (Cascade, 2010) and co-editor of "Lady Parts: Biblical Women and 'The Vagina Monologues,'" which includes six pieces authored by her students. She mouths off now and then at the Huffington Post, and very occasionally tweets at @blanchard_kate.

Roger S. Nam

About Roger S. Nam

Roger Nam, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, George Fox Seminary. A California native, Roger lives in Lake Oswego, Ore., with his with his wife, Samantha, and their two sons, Jared and Asher. As California transplants, they freely complain about the lack of sunshine, while secretly loving the cuisine, culture and the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Roger works primarily on understanding the nature of economy in the ancient Near East, particularly as reflected in biblical and extra-biblical texts. He works secondarily on Late Bronze Age civilizations, social scientific approaches to the Bible and inner-biblical exegesis. His doctoral work was at UCLA in Near Eastern Languages and Culture; he has authored Portrayals of Economic Exchange in the Book of Kings (Leiden: Brill, 2012) and is presently writing a book on the economies of Judah during the Persian period. Before entering the academic field of biblical studies, he was a pastor at Choong Hyun Presbyterian Church in Seoul, Korea (1994-1996), and a financial analyst at Maxim Integrated Products (1997-2000). Find him at http://www.georgefox.edu/seminary/faculty/bio/roger-nam.html

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