Crowdsourcing a Conference Talk on Politics, Pedagogy, and Public Scholarship

The past two weeks I’ve had some really good conversations with educators with whom I have considerable respect because they have had a vision for their work and they’ve executed it. These people are definitely achievers, but what has grabbed my attention is that their efforts have been collaborative in design and output.

In just a few weeks I’m going to be presenting a lot at the Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the North American Association for the Study of Religion. I will probably do a preview post or two about those presentations next week. But I want to rethink a set of panel presentations that I’ll be doing primarily for graduate students. And I need your help!

I have the privilege of speaking briefly on panels commissioned by the SBL’s Student Advisory Board and the AAR’s Graduate Student Committee. It’s not my first time to work with either of these great groups, and so I’ve been asking myself for months how to not simply present but be prescient for the moment and concerns of the occasion.

To be clear, I have thoughts about my presentations and could give them tomorrow if need be. But that kind of preparedness bothers me in the same way my I used to get frustrated by the idea of a preaching lab in my seminary education. If I don’t know my audience and their story, I’m just monologuing.

So I’m ready to change it up.

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Coach McKay asking for a line change in D2: The Mighty Ducks by yelling “Change It up!” because Coach Bombay has gone on the Disney-version of a post-bender search for his soul.

Were you (and I hope you will) attending either of the following panels, what would you want to hear about? Maybe you know my work. Maybe you don’t. But as I often ask my students, what should we discuss so that the moment we share is not a waste of time?

The SBL Abstract is below. I’m a panelist on this one.

Politics and Pedagogy
11/18/2018
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Room: 601 (Street Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: Hosted by the Student Advisory Board
At the 2017 SBL Annual Meeting scholars gathered to collaborate on pedagogical strategies and syllabi responsive to contemporary political and social climates. Academics at every career stage began a conversation that has continued in various forums about constructing courses attending to interwoven issues such as immigration, exile, social injustice, racism, gender and sexual oppression, and ecological crisis. Graduate students and early career scholars have a unique set of considerations regarding teaching courses on these subjects. On the one hand, being able to teach these courses may enhance their marketability. On the other hand, faculty without the protection of tenure are more vulnerable if student discussions become inflamed or if they are targeted by “outsiders” policing higher ed. Still more, graduate students and early career women or scholars of color experience acute pressures to teach and challenges in teaching such courses. The SBL Student Advisory board, in collaboration with this Wabash-funded workshop “Politics, Pedagogy, and the Profession,” aims at broadening the implications of this important pedagogical initiative through fostering a frank and open discussion about the challenges and opportunities of, as well as the best strategies to prepare for, teaching courses responsive to these critical and complex issues.

The AAR panel is below. And I’m a respondent to what promise to be some neat papers.

The World Needs Us: Serving the Public Sphere through the Study of Religion
Monday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Convention Center-Mile High 4A (Lower Level)
Theme: Hosted by the Graduate Student Committee
The AAR’s mission statement begins: “[i]n a world where religion plays so central a role in social, political, and economic events, as well as in the lives of communities and individuals, there is a critical need for ongoing reflection upon and understanding of religious traditions, issues, questions, and values.” Such a broad statement extends the understanding of the study of religion beyond both teaching and individual scholarship. This Special Topics Forum explores how the study of religion undergirds, challenges, and shapes public understandings of religion. Through a combination of presentation and response, panelists discuss the significance of diverse approaches to the study of religion in the public sphere. These approaches, ranging from formation in the classroom and social media engagement to influencing public political imagination about persistent concerns around radical identity and sanctuary campuses, highlight various avenues available for the study of religion in the public sphere and the challenges of that work.
So choose your own adventure and let me know what would be useful for me to discuss. Let’s be in this together. [#HTML-InsertInspirationSpeech>{)

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