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When the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) host their annual meetings November 18 – 21 in Boston, several faculty from Wake Forest University School of Divinity will present their own or respond to other’s scholarly research, participate on panels, or preside over topical sessions. Their involvement with these annual meetings is not only important as a centralized place to discuss research in their respective fields, but the meetings have profound impact on the ways they teach and engage students at the School of Divinity.
Derek S. Hicks, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture
“A great deal of what I learn from other scholars, either through presenting or presiding, ends up in my classes,” Hicks said. “These meetings allow me to engage scholars I assign in classes. What I find valuable is having conversations with them, gaining nuances of their scholarship that may not be present in their writings.”
Melva L. Sampson, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology
“As a womanist practical theologian, these gatherings provide collaborative opportunities, introduce cutting edge scholarship, and privilege common experiences as foundational to building relevant theoretical frameworks,” Sampson says. “I am deeply impacted by these gatherings as teacher and scholar. Exposure to interdisciplinary conversations and innovative pedagogical considerations sharpens my scholarship and practice.”
Katherine A. Shaner, Assistant Professor of New Testament
“My scholarship is always connected and accountable to communities,” Shaner reflects. “Sometimes these communities are churches and faith groups. Sometimes these communities are classroom communities. Being part of these meetings connects me with scholarly communities. In these meetings, I encounter ideas and materials that feed my academic imagination and generate new avenues of exploration for my teaching and my ministry.”
Additionally, Shaner said that these gatherings allow her to encounter those scholars whose work she assigns in her classes. “Our conversations help me draw out sharper insights for our students and often lead to collaborations in the classroom. For example, I have had scholars appear in my classroom via Skype to add depth and breadth to the texts and contexts that I regularly teach.”
Michelle Voss Roberts, Associate Professor of Theology and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
“These meetings keep me in contact with other scholars in my guild,” Voss Roberts said. “Others who study the Christian and Hindu traditions side-by-side, and also constructive theologians who draw upon sources from more than a single religious tradition to think about how to make meaning in the world today. Conferences with colleagues in my field keep my teaching fresh and current. I often bring publications and ideas from these gatherings to discuss in my teaching.”
The School of Divinity faculty come from 12 states and 2 countries (United States, South Korea), 16 undergraduate colleges and universities (having majored in more than 10 different areas of study), 14 masters programs, and 13 doctoral programs. 26% identify as an ethnic minority and 37% identify as female. They come from 11 religious affiliations and 75% are ordained. Over the last five years they have collectively published over 100 books, chapter contributions, edited volumes, co-edited volumes, and translations.