At Eastern University, we have a history professor who is Catholic, an English professor who is Baptist and a communication professor who is Quaker.
We have flaming liberals and staunch conservatives, both faculty and students. We have students and professors from all kinds of cultures, of all kinds of color and with all kinds of languages.
And goodness knows we learn a lot from each other. I never knew what crip-walking was, never realized there were Christians who favored abortion. I simply never knew how small my worldview was before coming to Eastern.
But I think there is a way we could learn even more, by exposing ourselves to an even greater variety of differences.
I would like to propose a visiting professorship.
The idea of a visiting professorship is that a professor, in this case of a non-Christian religion, would be invited to teach a course at Eastern for a year or so. The contract could be potentially renewable, depending on how things went.
Since the professor is of “visiting” status, he or she would not be required to agree with the faith statement that all faculty are required to sign each year.
I am not saying that our professors do a bad job teaching about other religions, but how cool would it be to have an Islamic Studies course taught by a Muslim? A course on the Torah taught by a rabbi? A course on Relationships Between Religions taught by a Buddhist?
I realize that some students may not be intensely interested in learning about different religions. However, many of us call ourselves Christians, perhaps without having a full understanding of what that means in today’s world.
What an awesome opportunity it would be to see our religion through the eyes of an outsider to the faith, in a controlled, academic setting.
At the very least, students could gain understanding about other cultures and religions directly from the source.
At best, a student’s faith could be strengthened as their beliefs are challenged and held up for comparison.
We hear a lot about the “Eastern bubble.” I think having a visiting non-Christian professor would be an excellent way to pop it.
–Amanda Gagnon is a junior majoring in communication studies