Teaching is a curious vocation. Basically, I get paid to stand up in front of people and talk. That's fun. But I enjoy it more when I get to listen, too. My students have good questions. I am privileged to observe their intellectual development, as they learn to answer these questions more carefully and more fully.
When I give presentations beyond the classroom, sometimes I'm trying out a new idea before bringing it into the classroom. Other times, the idea already has been tried and tested on my campus, and I want to share it with a new audience to foster a broader dialogue. Either way, I find that my own thinking becomes clarified by the interaction I have with my audience. Ideally, a presentation matures into a publication—giving a more permanent form to our discernment between truth and error, good and evil, as we cultivate the liberal arts.
I am regularly invited to speak at an academic conference or to a church group. These opportunities allow me to share my teaching and research with a broader audience and also to stay attuned with what is happening beyond my campus. I am listed on the speakers bureau for Lutherans for Life and also have given public addresses or run workshops for several other organizations. If you are interested in having me present for a meeting you are organizing, I welcome you to contact me.
Academic conferences provide scholars with an opportunity to get peer feedback on their works in progress and to learn what others in their discipline are doing.
Workshops allow for greater audience participation than typical presentations. Whereas a presentation is instructive, a workshop is interactive. People leave with more than just new ideas. They leave with a new project—a work in progress begun under the presenter's guidance but now ready to be continued by the participants on their own.
The Bethany Series in Scholarship (BSiS) provides faculty at Bethany Lutheran College an opportunity to share the results of recent research or to solicit feedback concerning a work in progress. Bethany's annual celebration of Constitution Day (September 17) features student, faculty, or guest presenters who explore our nation's political foundations. I have enjoyed participating in both events.
Journalists, talk-show hosts, and documentary film makers interview researchers for their expert opinion concerning matters of public interest.