Welcome!

By , 02/04/2012 11:16 AM

Welcome readers — students, faculty, friends, and others.

This is the place for introductions: me — Dr. William Lee Mangrum — to you. I am a Visiting Instructor at Fort Lewis College, teaching in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (Durango, Colorado). The students perched on this dry, sloping mesa in Southwestern Colorado have been wonderful to me. We laugh, argue, read, debate, sit in silence, and grow together. The faculty and the administration have likewise welcomed me into this campus community and encouraged me in my work. After many years laboring inside religious institutions, I am fortunate to land in this wide place of exceptional beauty, outdoor activity, and celebration of “learning and the liberal arts.”

I teach in two areas: The Writing Program and in the area of Religious Studies. I am privileged to work with several outstanding instructors in the Fort Lewis College Writing Program. This is a very large program directed by Dr. Erik Juergensmeyer with support from Dr. Stephanie Vie. Additionally, Dr. Vie gives direction to The Writing Center on campus and Dr. Juergensmeyer serves as the Coordinator for the Peace and Conflict Studies Minor. Our department is academically diverse — as is student writing across the disciplines — with seventeen faculty working in this area (WP Faculty Profiles).

This spring I taught Composition 126. This is a three unit course in academic writing, the second of two courses required in the COMP 1 sequence. Teaching composition melds my favorite subjects — reading and writing — in vigorous conversation with my favorite group of students — freshmen. Working with incoming students is an exhilarating challenge; they keep me laughing and crying and marveling at the infinite incarnations of our (fragile) human condition. Young students get a bad rap, sometimes. That’s unfortunate. I welcome their honesty, their openness, and their willingness to learn if carefully shown why learning matters. If you honor their “So What?” — whole worlds will open for them and you!

Within the Department of Philosophy is housed the Religious Studies program. Historically, the study of divinity has been at the heart of education including “higher education.” And, while religion no longer anchors modern universities, religions continue to multiply, spread, adapt, mature, and influence culture. Wherever there are people, there are religions, conflicts rooted in religion, and the need for persons ably trained in comparative religion who willingly navigate the tricky waters of multiple faiths flooding together. Many folks practice religion as if they’ve been handed a multiple choice quiz: select the right answers to a few questions. There, now all of life is nicely wrapped up, bound with ribbon, topped with a bow. I teach religion as adventure, a series of unfolding questions leading us deeper and deeper into the mysteries of “being.”

The coordinator for the Religious Studies program is Dr. Justin McBrayer. An interdisciplinary team of scholars (RS Faculty Profiles) design and deliver courses many of which speak to the presence of religion in nearly every area of life. At present this is a minor program. However, under Dr. McBrayer’s leadership student enrollment is increasing and departmental course offerings are expanding. More and more students are realizing the importance of understanding the role of religion within communities and cultures. Currently, I teach World Religions (RS 172 / Phil 172) and Introduction to Christianity (RS 110). I hope to offer a new course in the winter semester of 2013 — quite possibly either “body modification and religions,” or “religious perspectives on environmental issues.”

In the fall of 2012 I will be teaching World Religions (RS 172 / Phil 172) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I will be working with one class of students on The Art of Rhetoric (Composition 125), and teaching two classes of students in Rhetoric and Research (Composition 150). If they would let me teach more, I would. Apart from the love of family and friends, there are few pursuits more enjoyable than reading good books, debating hard issues, thinking critically with others, and making thoughtful connections from atop this mesa to the world beyond. Watching young minds awaken to the joys of liberal learning — this is work, good work!

Now that you’ve met me, perhaps you would tell me something about you and your interests? That’s how the world grows and connections strengthen. Please, stop by during my office hours; I’m in Nobel Hall, Room 234. Or, call and leave a message at 970-247-6764. Of course, there is also email (mangrum_w@fortlewis.edu),  and several other ways to contact me. I look forward to meeting you.

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