Wabash Center Webinars
Hosted by Wabash Center Director, Nancy Lynne Westfield, Ph.D.
Conversations with faculty teaching religion and theology in a wide range of institutional contexts.
Illuminating the teaching life and amplifying the Wabash Center’s mission.
Body indicators such as nose, hair, and flesh tones are relied upon for the perpetuation of prejudice, bias, and presumed privilege. What would it mean to unlearn, then relearn more liberative ways of reading the body? Can the truncated imagination which only sees value in the white body be rekindled to see worth in all bodies? The featured speakers for this event will be Dr. Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University) and Dr. Jennifer Harvey (Drake University).
Dismantling the systems and healing the wounds of racism requires a communal effort. What habits, strategies, and practices might a school undertake to learn together anti-racist work? The featured speakers for this event will be Dr. Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University) and Dr. Jennifer Harvey (Drake University).
What is white rage? What does it mean that racism so permeates school ecologies that white rage is not noticed by anyone other than its victims? What is the loss to the institution for white rage? How can white rage be counterbalanced? Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University) and Dr. Jennifer Harvey (Drake University).
White America must challenge its high capacity to tolerate racism, to overlook racist acts, and to look past racist behaviors. Personal agency is required to become anti-racist. Disrupting systemic racism requires a shift in public policies as well as a rethinking of institutional norms, traditions, and procedures. These shifts require the work of dedicated people. Equally, personal agency is required to genuinely welcome persons targeted by racism. To shift personal and familial attitudes, beliefs and behaviors persons must speak out for justice. This requires education and action. Our questions for this webinar:
- If racism is so pervasive as to be like “smog in the air” (Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum) – how do we identify acts of racism?
- What does it mean to be complicit with racism?
- What kind of listening is needed to become anti-racist?
- Is there such-a-thing as “microaggression?”
The courses and conversations needed to teach away from white supremacy and toward equity, freedom and humility require new conversation partners, creating new kinds of courses, and bravery. Such a conversation emerged when Dr. Smith (Columbia Theological Seminary) welcomed Dr. Ulrich (Bethany Theological Seminary & Earlham School of Religion) and students from their respective schools into a new course that she developed and taught on African American and Womanist hermeneutics and the Gospel of Luke. Smith and Ulrich will reflect on what they have learned through that experience, which has included consultations and writing supported by the Wabash Center. Learning in consultation throughout the project took imagination, patience, and vulnerability.
The many ways racism infuses the academy require honesty and persistence from white faculty committed to justice, equity and antiracism. Many different layers and kinds of work are necessary. One not to be overlooked is that of allied support for and advocacy with faculty of color. Interracial relationships, characterized by antiracist collegiality, crisscross the boundaries of structural and personal (even as does the racism Black, Brown, Asian and Native American faculty experience). In this webinar, Drs. Melanie Harris and Jennifer Harvey will engage in an interracial dialogue about the challenges to and possibilities for meaningful antiracism that can be manifested if white faculty members make intentional choices about committing to their colleagues and challenging their home institutions to become places where faculty and scholars of color may thrive.
In this time of urgent potential, higher education has a particular role and responsibility to re-frame and fully center our collective commitment around the well-being and thriving of Black and Brown people. Predominantly white institutions have long noted, but tolerated, racial disparities in rates of retention, persistence to graduation, and grade point average–all data that indicate students of color are being negatively impacted by hostile racial climates in so many of our institutions. Those of us who work within higher education, especially faculty, can and must transform our institutions by centering the experiences of Black and Brown students. Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey will speak to these issues, by sharing her journey as Faculty Director of the Crew Scholars Program at Drake University. Crew is an academic excellence and leadership development program for students of color at Drake. In its eight years of existence, among students in Crew, Drake has seen the gpa gap close, student of color retention rates soar, and Crew Scholars persistence to graduation outpace and outperform all other Drake students (including white students).
The everyday pressure of racist climates wears upon the body, mind and soul of teachers. What practices of health, wellness, and self-care might prolong the life of a scholar in a racist, toxic, climate? The featured speakers for this event will be Dr. Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University) and Dr. Jennifer Harvey (Drake University).
Why don’t white people know the tenets, behaviors, patterns, and core values of racism? What’s at stake for not knowing? What practices, rules, and policies might a faculty agree upon to combat white surprise? Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield will host Dr. Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University) and Dr. Jennifer Harvey (Drake University).
In what forms does racism show itself in faculty cultures? What does it take to identify the performance of racism before it happens and while it happens? What can be done to combat the visible and invisible practices of racism in a faculty? The conversation with Dr. Melanie Harris and Dr. Jennifer Harvey will be hosted by Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield.
Students are asking questions about the pandemic, the messages of the Bible, and faith during crisis. What does it mean to teach the Bible in ways that recognize contemporary crisis and opportunity?
Dr. Mitzi Smith (Columbia Theological Seminary) and Dr. Roger Nam (Portland Seminary) will discuss their creative approaches to teaching biblical literature and interpretation during this pandemic.
This conversation with teachers who are artists (Ralph Basui Watkins, Columbia Theological Seminary and Sophfronia Scott) will focus on ways to incorporate image and story into the learning plan and syllabus design. The dialogue will focus on ways storytelling can be an integral part of your course to enrich and enliven the student’s learning experience.
In these extraordinary times, spirituality and imagination are vital resources for teaching and the teaching life. This conversation with Willie Jennings (Yale University) and Amy Oden (Saint Paul School of Theology) will discuss spiritual formation and deformation, the role of the arts, and the use of creativity to sustain us through this time of uncertainty.
In crisis times, the creative voice speaks to the soul. The scholarly voice does not have to eclipse the creative voice. As published poets and scholars, these womanists will talk about their creative process and its influence upon their scholarship. They will also read original works.