Lectures, websites, press kits, twitter accounts, blogging, YouTube channels.
I went to divinity school with a calling to ministry, but unsure if that meant being the lead pastor of a local church or … something else. A couple years later, I was a minister and survivor of sexual violence and I found myself with a show-string budget leading an effort that offered a church response to sexual violence. I was on the ground with survivors, police, pastors, social workers and rape crisis centers trying to break silences about how rape, incest and sexual abuse affect our faith. Years later, I wrote a book about this work with the hope that other churches and crisis centers could learn from the experiences I had in Nashville, Tennessee. Before I knew it, I was speaking and teaching about this work and the book in churches and conferences around the country. As a young religious scholar, I hoped to write books that would transform how people understood faith and theology. I had no preparation for what it meant to be this public with my activism or scholarship.
I’ve tried to figure it out in fits and starts, getting help from a variety of sources in women’s leadership, marketing sectors and asking friends and colleagues. I’m still learning, but I realize that being a public scholar-activist is really not new.
This semester I’m thinking out loud about these things with several committed scholars and activists from Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University. We are reflecting together in my online class “Becoming a Public Scholar-Activist.” We ask the question:What does it mean to be a public scholar-activist in the 21st century?
We focus on the concepts, challenges and practices of historic and contemporary public scholar-activists – especially those with a focus on religious and inspirational/ motivational content. We are looking at particular public scholar-activists, and theories about public theology while also thinking about how we form and reflect on our own identities as public scholars. We will also practice various modes of sharing our scholarship with different publics. Look for blogs by members of the class. And look for us under #publicscholar too!
Monica A. Coleman is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions and Co-Director for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University. An ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Coleman has earned degrees at Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University. She blogs about faith and depression at Beautiful Mind Blog