I took my first academic religion course as an undergraduate and was drawn in quickly by the big questions and practical applications of the study of religion. I have always been interested in the intersection between religion and politics (yes, the two things we're told not to talk about in polite company!).
Research By Teaching
Most of my research comes directly out of my teaching. I edited a volume by Mount Union faculty entitled Humanities Perspectives in Peace Education: Re-Engaging the Heart of Peace Studies [italicize] because of my work in the Introduction to Peacebuilding and Social Justice course. My past and current work on "heroes" of faith-based social justice stems directly from my First Year Seminar and from upper-level courses on related topics. Those research projects in turn help to shape my courses and teaching.
The absolute best part of each day is interacting directly with students whether that's in the classroom, over coffee or lunch, or traveling to a conference, site visit, or other opportunity with students.
Small Feel, Big Opportunties
Mount Union offers a home-like feeling through close relationships between students and faculty and staff while still offering big university experiences for students. It's not every institution that can offer students an on-campus experience wherein faculty and staff know them by name, yet can also offer extensive and high-caliber internships, study abroad, conference travel, and other unique off-campus experiences.
I studied at a small liberal arts institution and had a phenomenal experience, largely because of the close relationships with faculty and staff, who were mentors to me at a critical time in my life. As a professor, I wanted a small enough institution where I could develop those kinds of relationships with students and be part of their development at this stage of life.
I chair the Department of Justice, Diversity, and Interdisciplinary Humanities, which houses five stellar minor programs: Africana Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Peacebuilding & Social Justice, Religious Studies, and Philosophy. These programs are unique in that they wrestle with real-world issues that touch everyone's lives, and are therefore applicable and relevant to all students. They pair well with any major Mount Union offers and provide new lenses for studying in those major programs.