|The Lively Classroom: A Fusion of Gen Ed and Religious Studies|
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Celia Brewer Sinclair, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Celia Brewer Sinclair is a senior lecturer in religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and adjunct faculty at Queens University. She holds degrees from Duke University and Yale Divinity School. She has taught in the fields of Bible and religion since 1978, first in a preparatory school and since 1992 in college settings. Currently, Brewer Sinclair is teaching courses titled “Jesus and the Buddha,” “Suffering and the Problem of Evil,” and “Heroes and Warrior Women.” She is author of three books published by Westminster/John Knox Press, A Guide through the Old Testament (1989, under the name Celia Brewer Marshall), A Guide through the New Testament (1994), and Genesis (1999, under the name Celia Brewer Marshall). Brewer Sinclair is a writer of curricula for the United Methodist Publishing House and the author of the Disciple Short-Term Bible Study on the Old Testament (with James D. Tabor, Abingdon Press, 2005). She wrote the 2006–2007 Horizons Bible Study: In the Beginning, Perspectives on Genesis (Horizons Presbyterian Women’s Press, 2006), which was the winner of the Associated Church Press 2007 Award of Excellence in Bible Resources.
The Challenge of Gen Ed
So reads the rationale for the general education program at a large public university in the North Carolina system. I teach “gen ed” courses at this university. I teach as a member of the religious studies department. And I love what I do.
“Gen ed,” and specifically the courses called “liberal studies” at my university, is a challenge. It is the challenge of developing courses that are interdisciplinary grab-bags of materials and majors. Each course is a wonderful mess that brings together future engineers, nurses, educators, etc., and asks them to read, to watch, and to reflect together. What I love is identifying big questions, both contemporary and enduring. For instance, this semester in LBST 2101 (Western Cultural and Historical Awareness) we ask: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good people do bad things? Historically how have thinkers in the West answered these questions? What patterns and perspectives can we identify in Western thought? What patterns and perspectives are found right here in the classroom? The title of my LBST 2102 (Global and Intercultural Connections) section this semester is “Heroes and Warrior Women.” Questions asked in this course include: How have different cultures defined heroism? What models and theories inform the class when they think of the heroic?