My name is Richard Newton. I am Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. As a teacher-scholar, I am committed to germinating conversation about religion and culture in order to yield a more thoughtful society. Sowing the Seed represents that commitment in digital form.
“Academic” gets interpreted in couple of different ways. There’s the academic that deals with irrelevance and the academic that’s interested in learning. Over the years I’ve tried to make sure that my work represents the latter.
To that end, I launched Sowing the Seed as a social media professional development network for students of religion. Whether you’re wanting to develop your Religious Studies acumen, think more deeply about cultural happenings, or sharpen your pedagogy, I hope you’ll see this site as a space for that exploration.
More than anything, Sowing the Seed is an organic exchange between curious people. The site started out in 2006 as dispatches related to my field research with the Bethsaida Excavation Project and the Maya Research Program. I was looking into developing a better anthropological model for understanding the Parable of the Sower in light of gleanings from two different agrarian settings. In 2009, it became a place for me to work out my thoughts on teaching about religion, race, and culture. And between 2015 and 2019, the site regularly hosted a regular blog roundtable featuring the insights of an interdisciplinary group of undergraduates, graduate students, and working scholars from across 11 institutions.
As the StS community increasingly interacts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @seedpods, the site has come to supplement these exchanges with multimedia resources ranging from our various classroom video series, the podcast Broadcast Seeding, and long-form essays. And I continue to do live events and media outreach in spaces across the United States.
As a former student once told me, I like to find generous ways of discussing the matters that friends shy away from at dinner parties–religion, culture, politics. I’m glad you could join us.