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GC Philosophy & Religion Faculty Participate in Wesleyan Dialogue on Embodiment and Atonement

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GC Philosophy & Religion Faculty Participate in Wesleyan Dialogue on Embodiment and Atonement

Before the hustle and bustle of spring break, Christina Smerick, Kent Dunnington, Ben Wayman and John Brittingham, Greenville College faculty from the Philosophy & Religion Department, made the journey to the 2014 gathering of the Wesleyan Philosophical Society (WPS) and Wesleyan Theological Society (WTS), held March 6-8 on the campus of Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. These annual meetings provide opportunities for scholars from schools and churches to engage in scholarly dialogue and research from a Wesleyan perspective. Additionally, the conferences provided valuable experiences that will continue to enrich their careers and benefit learning opportunities at GC. Below are just a few of the benefits that faculty bring back to campus after attending academic conferences like the WPS and WTS gatherings.

Benefit #1- Networking

The WPS and WTS conferences, like many conferences, provide rich occasions for likeminded participants to build their networks, in this case scholars interested in philosophical and theological study from a Wesleyan perspective. These connections have led to collaborations and learning experiences for GC faculty and students alike. In 2012 GC sent 8 students to the WTS/WPS conferences in Nashville, Tenn. where they were also able to reap the networking benefits of an academic conference building valuable connections with grad schools and esteemed scholars. Relationships built at WPS and WTS conferences have also brought acclaimed scholars to campus as chapel and colloquia speakers like recent campus visitors Dr. Matthew Hill and Dr. Richard Middleton. 

Benefit #2- Academic Leadership

Dr. Christina SmerickChair of the Philosophy and Religion Department, Shapiro Chair of Jewish-Christian Studies and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Greenville College, Dr. Christina Smerick (pictured on left), ran this year’s WPS conference as their 1st Vice-President and continued her 5-year tenure as the Section Chair of Philosophical Theology for WTS. She currently serves as the President of WPS and on the Planning Committee for WTS. These leadership roles continue to provide Smerick with opportunities to participate in the direction of research and dialogue in the field of Wesleyan philosophy. “Having official authority in the organizations has given me the opportunity to read others’ work, to shape and support interesting sessions on philosophy that center around themes, and as a scholar, the conferences have given me a great opportunity to do scholarly work in my field, but perhaps in different directions than I would go on my own.”

Benefit #3 - Participation in the production of knowledge

Adjunct professor, John Brittingham, presented a paper, “My Body, For Others: Intercorporeality” at the WPS gathering. Brittingham, an alumnus of the GC Philosophy and Religion Department at GC, pinpoints the value of these conferences as a place where faculty are encouraged to contribute to the conversations happening in their disciplines and bring their students into those conversations. “Where participation in conferences benefit GC and its students arises from the fact that colleges and universities are not just aimed at distributing or examining knowledge, but are also involved in the production of knowledge. Students get the benefit of having instructors who are aware not only of where their discipline has been, but where it is going. And that is something truly exciting.” 

Benefit #4: Renew and Refocus

Dr. Ben WaymanFinally, academic conferences engage participants in the current conversations and questions of their field, reawakening a passion for their field of study in their work on campus and toward their own research. “My GC experience is enriched by attending these conferences because they both reinforce and renew my passion for my discipline. These conferences enrich the experiences of GC students because they require that I continue to deepen and develop my classroom instruction. One way in which my instruction is deepened and developed by such academic conferences is that they provide a concrete practice through which I model for my students the life-long learning I hope they embrace,” described Ben Wayman (pictured on left), an assistant professor of religion at GC. Wayman presented a paper at the Wesleyan Theological Society in the Theological Education section titled “Julian Against Christian Educators: The Dangers of Christian Education.”

Dr. Kent DunningtonKent Dunnington (pictured on right), associate professor of philosophy at GC, presented a paper on intellectual humility in higher education (“Eristic, Misology, and Dialectic: The Neglected Role of Intellectual Humility in Higher Eductation”) at the WTS gathering and moderated a session for the WPS. Dunnington points to the experience as one of refocus. “Going to these meetings is important to me because it helps me understand how our mission at GC is not an isolated one. We are among a large group of Christians who are committed to educating Christians who serve the church and the world in the name of Jesus.”

This story was published on May 14, 2014




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