World Religions (term one 2011-2020) introduces the principal features of the world's major religions through reference to key events, characters, beliefs and related phenomena. A range of thinkers are discussed such as, Philo, Origen, Rumi, Dogen, Julian of Norwich, Theodor Herzl, Mohandas Gandhi and Vine Deloria Jr.
Religion in Film (term two 2012, 2014 and 2021) introduces a sampling of global cinema in order to help students begin to interpret their visual styles, narrative constructions, historical contexts, and salient themes.
The World's Great Thinkers I (term one 2015-18) summarizes the thought and influence of a range of highly influential ancient and pre-modern philosophers.
Philosophy of Religion (term one 2019-21) examines a number of issues which came to the fore in the ancient, medieval, early modern and enlightenment periods such as proofs for the existence of God, the nature of religion, the relation of religion and scientific inquiry, and the sources of the concept of transcendence. Philosophers to be considered may include Augustine, Avicenna, Maimonides, Anselm, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.
Suffering: Comparative Studies (term two 2021) investigates diverse reflections upon the nature of human and other forms of suffering. It develops comparative methodologie in order to help students evaluate divergent philosophical and religious viewpoints on the topic. Key thinkers discussed may include: Gottfried Leibniz; Immanuel Kant; Friedrich Nietzsche; Nagarjuna; Simone Weil; René Girard; and Emanuel Levinas.
The World's Great Thinkers II (term two 2015-17) summarizes the thought and influence of a range of highly influential modern philosophers.
Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity and Islam (term two 2013-15) compares the inter-religious and civilizational points of interest between Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions over their complex histories.
Modern Religious Thought (term one 2015-17 and term two 2019-20) examines the development of the philosophical understandings of God, the gods, and transcendence in the modern period. Students will investigate the key writers on the subject who have contributed to major changes in a variety of religions today, such as Martin Buber, William James, Paul Tillich, Mary Daly, Jacques Derrida, Richard Rorty and Charles Taylor.
Debating the Big Ideas (term two 2016-17) debates contemporary issues based on the introduction to the foundational areas, themes or questions in philosophy, and the methods of study that are typically employed by them in previous courses.
Religion in the Secular World (term two 2012-13 and 2015) evaluates the new and persistent visibilities of religion in secular societies with reference to key philosophers and political theorists.
Religious Ethics (term one 2011-12) analyzes a variety of approaches to perennial ethical issues such as the problem of evil or theodicy.
Jewish Thought after the Holocaust (term two 2014) explores a range of key Jewish thinkers who have provided influential responses to the Holocaust over the course of the twentieth century.
Religion, Ritual and Consciousness (term two 2011) analyze key religious categories such as ritual, myth, the sacred and transcendence through prominent research methods in the study of religion.
For students who complete the B.A. degree with high levels of proficiency, the fourth year Honours degree provides a chance to write a 15-17,000 word research thesis, enhance their methodological competencies and pursue a directed study of their choice. I've taught the B.A. Honours Methodology course, led directed studies and supervised a number of commendable theses on topics such as: Buddhist and Lacanian Desire (2017); Mad Max: Fury Hope (2017); Origen’s Midrash Pesher (2016); Kant in Rawls (2013); and, Law and Ethics in Bonhoeffer (2012).
Between 2006 and 2010, I taught the following courses in the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in the Religions and Theology Department at the University of Manchester, England:
Introduction to Religions and Theology Core Course (first year)
Introduction to Christianity (first year)
Making Sense of Jesus Christ (second year)
The Return of Religion in the West (third year)
Religion and Political Life Core Course (postgraduate)
Academic Administration at the University of Newcastle
2019-20, Head of Cluster for Historical, Cultural and Critical Inquiry
2012-, Convenor, Studies of Religion courses in the B.A.
2012-17, Convenor, B.Th. Programs
2016, Head of Discipline (Acting), Philosophy and Religion Area
2016, Member, B.A. Revitalization Working Group (2017 Faculty of Education and Arts Dean’s Award for Collaboration Excellence)
2012-13, Convenor, Religion in Political Life Research Program
2011-12, Convenor, Research Group for Religious and Intellectual Traditions
My aim is to help students reflect upon some of the most important ideas in human history. Learning to understand what makes an idea matter is central to that task. Hence, I typically locate key thinkers in their historical contexts in order to foster deeper understanding of the reverberating effects of their arguments. While many courses concentrate upon modern thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, Hannah Arendt or Emmanuel Levinas, ancient to medieval thinkers also feature such as Avicenna, Maimonides or Anselm. In each case, critical evaluation of their interventions in the debates of their times informs students about how to face contemporary challenges.
We live in complex information cultures that benefit from the habits of mind that humanities degrees promote. Such habits are embedded in the marking rubrics I use to assess a student’s ability to critically interpret, argue cohesively, as well as engage primary and secondary sources of evidence. We may have tremendous power to access information through our digital devices, but this does not inevitably result in the skills necessary to deliberate meaningfully amidst a diversity of human beings. It seems to me that Kant's enlightenment challenge, sapere aude [dare to be wise], remains ever out in front of us.
The average student rating of all of the courses that I convened which were surveyed at the University of Newcastle was 4.45 on a 0-5 scale. The average student rating of all of the courses that I convened which were surveyed at the University of Manchester was 1.61 on a -2 to 2 scale.
Beyond my academic affiliation I do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from my teaching or research. In accordance with my university’s policies and as delineated by relevant Australian state and federal laws, I do not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, scholarships or employment against any individual on account of their sex, race, color, religion, age, physical or mental disability, marital or pregnancy status, political party or opinion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or any other category prescribed by law.