It was exactly five years ago when Professor Jeff Robbins first began his three-year term as a faculty representative on LVC’s Board of Trustees that he brought a message back to his departmental colleagues: Board members of the college want and expect each academic department on campus to be doing work worthy of national attention.
Knowing that they were already internationally active scholars, the departmental faculty were eager to take on this challenge.
Since that time the year-long, team-taught Undergraduate Research Symposium course has been taught for three successive years. It has been lauded by the prominent external scholars from Yale University, Duke University, and Kingston University London who have partnered with the LVC faculty in the teaching and administering of the class.It also led to two of the students from the course winning 1st and 3rd prizes for most outstanding papers at the North American Undergraduate Conference in Religion and Philosophy for two years in a row, and to publication opportunities for all of the students who complete the class.
Since that time, not only has Professor Matthew Sayers won the Thomas Rhys Vickroy Award for Teaching Excellence at LVC, but he has also established the Institute for Interfaith Literacy and Leadership. The Institute is being built on principles Professor Sayers learned at the Seminar on Teaching Interfaith Understanding, which was sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and Interfaith YouthCore, two nationally leading organizations in higher education.
Also since that time, Professor Noel Hubler has received grant funds in order to take a lead in developing an inverted classroom for the teaching and learning of philosophy. The goal of an inverted course is to perform the transfer of information outside the classroom and devote class time to problem solving and application. This is just one of many examples of the ways by which the faculty within the department have taken advantage of funding opportunities to innovate and to create various high impact learning opportunities for LVC students.
And now, in the last week alone, two of the departmental faculty have been featured by leading national and international news organizations. Building on her ongoing teaching and research on genocide, Professor Noelle Vahanian’s reflections on the significance of the commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide was published in Al Jazeera America (see here: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/4/genocide-remembrance-isnt-just-for-armenians-and-turks.html). And Professor Bob Valgenti’s ongoing E.A.T. project was profiled in a feature story of the Chronicle of Higher Education (see here: http://chronicle.com/article/On-This-Campus-Chicken/229789/). As this Chronicle story makes clear, the LVC Department of Religion and Philosophy is challenging convention, leading through collaborative scholarship, and making change through engagement and reflection.