• Ben Ramsey
  • Ben Ramsey
  • Religious Studies
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  • Associate Professor
  • bhramsey@uncg.edu
  • 109 Foust Building
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  • At UNCG Since: 1993
  • Director, Teaching Innovations Office


     
  • Ben Ramsey
  • Director, Teaching Innovations Office


     
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  • Why Teaching?
  • As is the case with most faculty, what drives me into teaching is, first, a love for a discipline (in my case, Religious Studies), that is, a passion for a particular kind of academic content coupled with a deep respect for the modes of learning and researching that constitute a field of academic endeavor as an academic discipline. Concomitantly, I have a passion for engaging others in that content, more literally, for broad-casting the discipline through writing, through classroom work with dedicated students, and through various public venues, so that whatever wisdom there is to be gleaned from working in my field of knowledge and for using the particular tools of learning and researching that have been developed and honed in that field, can be shared. For what end? I do not know. Or rather, I have learned that the ends that I seek in my teaching, be it the teaching of my students, the teaching of my community engagement, or the teaching of my writing and research, are seldom the ends that are gained.
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  • Why the Teaching Innovations Office?
  • My interest in the Teaching Innovations Office stems above all from a recognition that the force of outside pressures and alien models of work have fragmented the academic life of faculty to the point where teaching as a holistic endeavor is becoming impossible. The business model with its divisions of labor has, as it has become now the standard model for institutionalizing education, forced faculty to be experts, that is, workers only in one area or another of teaching (in research or in sustained work with students or in community engagement). The demand by the corporate and governmental sectors that higher educational institutions perform the job training formerly done by employers has pressed faculty into being skills and competencies trainers to the detriment of their calling to be teachers. And the declining economic status of this country, short term and long, has pressed faculty into becoming procurers of money, sometimes to support their own work but oftentimes to support aspects of this public University that should be supported by the state. Organizations like the Teaching Innovations Office provide a critical space for faculty to come together, to discuss what it is we do and how we can do what we ought to be doing amidst the array of countervailing forces, and (and maybe this is most important) to re-member all of the things that we do that have been dis-membered.
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  • Why Religious Studies?
  • Religious institutions and the practices that they inculcate do tremendous civilizational harm and all sorts of socio-cultural and political good. Intensive work in the discipline of Religious Studies, at its best, provides avenues for avoiding the worst that the various religious formations promulgate and for gleaning and putting to productive use the goods that religious forms hold.
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  • What is Next?
  • To help build a common space and place where the teaching work of faculty can be shared and recalled, and where the future of that work can be, in league with other organizations on the UNCG campus, thought out, planned, and brought to fruition.
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