“Will there be a penalty for being public,” ask emerging scholars of religion? “Will there be a penalty for not being public,” ask established scholars? During this media training program, participants will scrutinize different ways of thinking that scholars of religion have about being public, such as engaging the media, using social media, and publishing in non-traditional venues. Through a series of exercises, participants will explore the possibilities and pitfalls of three roles that scholars of religion often play when seeking to contribute to the public good: scholar as activist, commentator, and policy specialist.
This program will feature the work of Myriam Renaud, who will discuss the various pathways for public scholarship; Najeeba Syeed, will speak about the scholar as activist; keynote presenter, Debra L. Mason, will speak about scholar as commentator; and Mark Chancey, will speak about the scholar as policy specialist.
Myriam Renaud is a former Managing Editor of Sightings—the general-audience, online publication of the University of Chicago Divinity School’s Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion. She is completing her dissertation in religious thought at the Divinity School and is a member of the Interfaith Action faculty at Claremont Lincoln University. Her interests include the art of bringing academic research in religion to bear on current events in ways that are accessible, relevant and helpful to non-specialists. She has written for publications ranging from Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science to The Atlantic.
Professor Syeed, Assistant Professor of Interreligious Education at the Claremont School of Theology, is recognized as a leader in peacebuilding and twice received the Jon Anson Ford Award for reducing violence in schools and in the area of interracial gang conflicts and was named Southern California Mediation Association’s “Peacemaker of the Year” in 2007. Her track record as a peacemaker has made her sought out advisor for state, federal and White House initiatives, and in international conflicts in Guam, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, India and France.
Professor Mason is among the leading U.S. scholars of how religion is portrayed in the news media. She brings more than 30 years of professional and scholarly experience to her position as curriculum specialist to the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. Dr. Mason is professor of Journalism Studies at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and director of its Center on Religion & the Professions, an interdisciplinary center working to improve religious literacy among professionals and to help them serve a diverse public.
Dr. Mark A. Chancey is a Professor of Religious Studies at the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences of Southern Methodist University. In recent years he has devoted considerable attention to the constitutional, political and academic issues raised by Bible courses in public schools. He is the author of The Myth of a Gentile Galilee (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Greco-Roman Culture and the Galilee of Jesus (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and co-author of Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (Yale University Press, 2012).
This session is a program of the Public Scholars Project, a joint initiative of the American Academy of Religion and the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, Washington, DC. Designed to equip scholars of religion to more effectively communicate in the public square, and thus to foster broader religious literacy, the Public Scholars Project offers seminars and resources for AAR members who seek to enhance their media and civic literacies.