A Professor’s Summer (2016)

Over the years, friends and family members have often joked with me that once the summer comes, I don’t really have to work. Usually (I think) this is in fun, and my standard reply is something like, “I don’t remember seeing you in grad school …” It’s my way of reminding them (and myself) that the great job I have came at a price. (It’s worth noting that my wife Colleen paid about as much of that price as I did!)

img_0286More seriously, one of the great joys of my work is its variety. The semesters are usually very busy, and then the summer takes on its own rhythm. I work from home much of the time, do a little gardening, and much of the cooking and cleaning. As I was invigilating a final exam this morning, I decided to think through my summer plans in a bit more detail. Here’s a rough sketch:

  • Placing Memory project … This oral history project I’ve been working on with students and community members this past year needs a lot of cleaning up work: some more interviewing, transcribing, and compiling of research material, as well as developing two online exhibitions and writing two to three articles out of this material.
  • Refugee Stories … This will be our Ambrose research project for 2016-2017, and I need to do background reading, prepare readings for students, fill out ethics review forms, develop oral interview training material and an interview guide, and then develop and begin working with a steering committee. Oh, and apply for funding.
  • USHMM … I’m participating in a two-week workshop on teaching the Holocaust from Jewish perspectives at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in June, so I’ll have preparatory reading for that, and then sessions to attend (and hopefully a baseball game or two) in Washington, D.C.
  • Reformation Tour … Colleen and I are leading a 12-day Reformation tour in Germany and Switzerland this July, so I need to read a couple of books and a few articles on the Reformation, develop materials (historical and devotional) for the participants, and do some advertising. I’m also developing material for three Reformation trips I’ll lead in 2017, which is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. Thank you, Martin Luther!
  • Teaching … I’m teaching HI 142 World History since 1500 for a couple of weeks in May, so I need to prepare that version of the course, which mostly just involves some logistics and a few pedagogical twists for a condensed time period in which to deliver the course. I will also do a good bit of work preparing for my fall courses (HI 280 History in Practice; HI 380 Applied Research in History; HI 368 Antisemitism and the Holocaust). And I need to supervise a student who is working on and independent research project over the summer, on the history of government responses to child poverty in Alberta. That will be really neat to see unfold!
  • Blogging … I’d really like to get into a more regular rhythm of blogging, and to start to get students and others doing some blogging for our history program blog (which doesn’t exist yet!).
  • History Program … Our program Writing Guide needs updating. I should do some work with contract instructors to make sure we’re all on the same page with their content and pedagogy in their courses. We just had a great review of our history program, so I should make sure we shout that from the rooftops somewhere and somehow. And I’d like to have a better plan for how to welcome in and integrate our new history students coming this fall.
  • CCHQ … I’m managing editor for an online journal, Contemporary Church History Quarterly, and we’ve got new issues coming out June 1 and September 1, so I will have to round up and edit material from my colleagues on the editorial board. I should try to review a book myself, too.
  • Signs … The High River Heritage Advisory Board I’m on won a grant to produce some heritage signs for historical buildings/sites in High River this year, so I’ll do my part to see that project forward (some research and writing and organizing).
  • Conference preparation … I’ll be at two conferences this fall–the Alberta Museum Association conference in Calgary in September, where we’re doing a session on the Placing Memory project, and the Conference on Faith and History biennial meeting in Virginia in October, where I’m hoping I can 1) give a paper on race and Christians in Nazi Germany, 2) lead a round table on the Placing Memory project, and 3) support one of my history students as he delivers a paper in the student research part of the conference. Haven’t heard back yet on those things yet, though.
  • Articles … I still have two other articles on religion in Nazi Germany that just need a bit more work and then (hopefully) I can submit them to journals, to see if they’ll publish them.

There’s a few other odds and ends, but this is my main list. Will all of it get done? Probably not, but I’m sure going to have fun trying! I love my job!

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