Studying and teaching comparative religious ethics

I was born and grew up in Virginia, USA completing my undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Leadership Studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA. After attending Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, USA, my wife, and I moved to Paris where I completed the 1-year Middle East and Islamic Studies program at The American University of Paris.

During my Masters program, I developed an academic interest in comparative religious ethics, theoretical problematics of comparison, and the problem of inequality and domination in the social sphere. My knowledge about Islam and, for that matter, the Middle East was lacking and I was particularly drawn to AUP because of Professor Ali Rahnema's unique perspective on political economy and Islamic revivalism.

In addition to the theoretical leaning of the MEIS program, at AUP I was fortunate enough to work very closely with some staff in the AUP Library. My experiences there helped me consider innovations in research technologies and how they are impacting the academic enterprise. This experience has had a lasting impact on the way that I conduct research and go about locating documents and information. 

AUP’s diversity and multicultural environment (both socio-geographically and regarding career aspirations of its students) have instilled a desire to seek out and consider differing approaches and opinions on many issues. Having completed all of my other schooling in the US, my time at AUP has led me to maintain a consistent focus on biases with which I am operating in my writing and theorizing. Whether these biases are related to aspects of personal familial background, professional affiliation, or cultural-social surroundings.

I am currently in the third year of Doctoral studies at Florida State University. My research interests include the theoretical problems I addressed above as well as issues unique to the academic study of religion. Broadly speaking, I study Islamic and Christian ethical systems as they are conceived of, argued for, established, maintained, and enforced with an eye towards the social power dynamics undergirding (and, in some cases, driving) these processes. At FSU, I have taught a course called Religious Ethics and Moral Problems where I am able to think through many of these issues more broadly with undergraduates.

In a way, my studies constitute my professional pursuits and activities. However, my studies at AUP – particularly with Professor Rahnema’s self-reflective political economic approach – have had a formative impact on those studies as well as my approach to teaching.  Within an academic setting, one must be particularly aware of the object of study, the method of study, and any problematic biases or assumptions. This critical posture towards academic work has greatly impacted my approach to the study of comparative religious ethics.  Further, gaining experience in writing, editing, and publishing scholarly work through AUP Student Media (particularly Cosmopolite and Scripta Politica et Economica) was an aspect of my studies at AUP that had a formative impact on my academic career.

I value the connections that I made both personally and professionally at AUP. Dr. Rahnema has been a constant conversation partner since I graduated and, recently, I have been exchanging papers and abstracts with some of my colleagues from AUP who are also currently pursuing doctoral degrees. While we are pursuing our studies across continents, the academic community at AUP has been a constant source of encouragement, critique, and guidance as I have continued my studies and begun my teaching career.

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    A woman enters a liquor store. Within seconds, the man behind the counter has figured out her name, where she lives and her birthday. Read more...

  • Shadows

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  • Drawing

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    Professor Oleg Kobtzeff recently published the first issue of the webzine he created along with AUP colleagues, alumni and students. Read more...

  • Macarons-Workshop

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    Each year, students of French Language and Culture of Elementary Level 1 make a visit to the macaron and chocolate making workshop of French patissier Gerard Mulot. Read more...

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  • Picture of Proust and Beckett Book

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    In “Proust and Beckett: The Art of Failure,” students read a selection of works from both authors, who are undoubtedly two of the twentieth century’s major prose writers, and explore their stories through museums and exhbitions. Read more...

  • Fez

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    The Fez practicum takes students to Fez, Morrocco to provide them with training in cross-media platforms and an introduction to the workings of cultural and social life in an unusual and complex historic city. Read more...

  • Picture of student filming

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    Over the course of the semester, the student pairs learn their way around HD cameras, microphones, and the ins and outs of the editing program Final Cut Pro in order to produce two video projects. Read more...

  • Picture of students and visitors in the Louvre

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    The program's goal is to enter into dialogue with Louvre visitors around a work of art. The program was conceived to draw youth into what are often perceived as discouragingly daunting walls. Read more...

  • Fashion Journalism

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    The course prepares students to write about various aspects of fashion, ranging from trend forecasting, sustainability, street styles, graphic design and business. Read more...

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