By Kerri Nottingham, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Campbellsville University hosted the 31st annual meeting of the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology recently during which about 40 professors studied the state of sociology in today’s world.
Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University who is a sociologist and who has taught sociology, gave the opening address to those attending the conference the theme of which was “World Christianity and Social Transformation.”
Carter’s presentation, titled “The Future of Sociology in Christian Colleges and State Universities: A Path Less Traveled Unless…”, . addressed the possible fates of sociology departments at both Christian and secular institutions.
He discussed program strengths including a rich history and a commitment to sound theories and research, and weaknesses including internal conflicts and slow production of doctorate degrees.
He also spoke of threats that include online “degree” programs and a general lack of awareness of the benefits of sociology, and opportunities that involve resolution of major social issues and practical application of classical theories.
He spoke of his own optimism regarding the future of sociology, yet remained uncertain because sociology is often unknown to the general public and is easily misunderstood. He then posed the question “As Christian sociologists, what are we going to do about it?”
Dr. Tom Hood, University of Tennessee, gave his response to Carter’s address and led the group discussion that followed. Hood agreed with Carter’s comments and said the social sciences are too easily given lesser priority to other subjects and something needs to be done to save the discipline.
During the discussion that followed Hood’s response, Dr. David Carlson, chair of the Division of Social Science and associate professor of psychology at Campbellsville University, said students often come to him asking “What can you do with a sociology major?” To that he replies: “Well, what can you do with a sunny day? Nothing, or just about anything you want.”
As a group, the attendees recognized the problem facing their discipline and discussed several possible avenues for the future of sociology.
Dr. Jacquelyn Sandifer, associate professor of criminal justice at Campbellsville University, gave the opening devotion on the first day of presentations.
One of the day’s presentations “Decolonizing Christian Practice and Pedagogy: The Struggle of the Christian College in Practicing and Teaching Equality, Acceptance, and Tolerance” was given by Dr. Eric M. Carter and his wife, Yoli Carter, Georgetown College. Their presentation centered on what true Christian values are compared to what is actually practiced by some institutions.
The Carters said they believe there is too much hypocrisy plaguing Christian colleges and universities today, and that efforts need to be made toward genuine understanding of cultures other than one’s own.
They also said true Christian values are those of cultural competence, tolerance, awareness and acceptance. They focused on one Bible verse in particular – Matthew 25:40 which reads “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (KJV)
Eric and Yoli Carter are the son and daughter-in-law of Campbellsville University president Dr. Michael V. Carter and his wife, Debbie.
The other presentations given included: “Integrating Faith and Learning through Problem-Solving Learning” by Dr. Brian Fry, Indiana Wesleyan University; “The Digital Embrace: College Students and Community Longings” by Dr. Matt Vos, Covenant College; “Correlations between Religiosity and Successful Aging in a Study of Community-dwelling Older Adults” by Cynthia Resser, University of Kentucky;
“Anomie and Religiosity: Data from 104 NFL Players” by Dr. Eric M. Carter, Georgetown College and Dr. Michael V. Carter, Campbellsville University, “Roundtable: Christian Sociologists Response to Illegal Immigration” Dr. Antonio Chiareli, Union University; “Female Genital Removal in Africa: The Semantic ‘Tug-of-War’”
Prof. Val Hiebert, Providence College;
“More Eyes to Behold It: Collaboration’s Role in Redefining the Art World” Caris Tilson, Covenant College; and “Fathers Be Good to Your Daughters: Paternal Influence in the Life of the Adolescent Girl” Anna Marshall, Covenant College.
Dr. Brian J. Grim, Penn State University, delivered a keynote address titled “Religious Persecution on a Post-Communist Globe.” The Central Kentucky Traditional Musicians performed after Grim’s address.
Dr. Matt Vos, Covenant College, led the devotion on Saturday morning.
The final presentations were:
“Factors Associated with Sexual Abstinence among the Unmarried at a Conservative Christian University” Dr. Lionel Matthews, Andrews University; “Purity and the Marriage Bed: Disembedding Christian Concepts of Marriage from Culture” Dr. Dennis Hiebert, Providence College;
“Louis IX of France, Franciscan Repentance, and the Crusade: The Struggle over Violence in Thirteenth Century Franciscanism” Dr. Joe Zimmerman, Holy Cross Friary and Quincy University Friary; and “Keynote Follow-up” Dr. Brian J. Grim, Penn State University.
On Saturday afternoon, the group toured Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and dined at the historic Beaumont Inn.
The conference concluded with a Sunday morning worship service led by Dr. Russ Heddendorf, Covenant College, at the home of Sandifer.
Campbellsville University professors Carlson, Sandifer and Dr. Linda Trollinger, assistant professor of sociology, planned the conference.
Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,310 students who represent 100 Kentucky counties, 32 states and 28 foreign nations. Listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” 14 consecutive years as one of the leading Southern master’s colleges and universities, Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his ninth year as president.