Bates announces faculty promotions including tenure and full professorships
Bates has announced faculty promotions, including tenure awards and full professorships, effective for the 2016-17 academic year.
“These promotions recognize the achievements of faculty members who personify what it means to be an outstanding teacher and scholar at Bates College,” said Matthew Auer, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.
“These faculty members teach with passion and purpose, they cross academic and scholarly boundaries with skill, and they are fully engaged members of our liberal arts community and leaders in the academy.”
Recommended by the faculty’s Committee on Personnel and approved by the Bates College Board of Trustees, the promotions have been awarded to faculty members in the fields of dance, economics, English, environmental studies, politics, psychology, and religious studies.
Promotions to associate professor with tenure
Fields of research: 19th- and 20th-century U.S. literature, American studies, privacy law, feminist theory, and critical race studies
Came to Bates in: 2007
Why I teach: “Teaching literature, I can make the most ephemeral dimensions of the American past, whether centuries or weeks ago, tangible and compellingly present for my students, illuminating for them diverse experiences and perspectives.
“Thus, my teaching often foregrounds revealing juxtapositions and unexpected connections, asking students to read literature in relation to broader webs of information and media — maps, newspapers, music videos, and documentary film. I love that the larger pedagogical context of the engaged liberal arts encourages Bates students to draw connections between what they study in my classroom and what they learn elsewhere in the curriculum and observe in the world beyond its walls.
“As an undergraduate, I initially majored in politics, hoping to better understand the systemic roots of social injustice and inequality. I remember vividly the American literature classes through which I first came to appreciate the humanities’ indispensable contributions to the study of politics, identity, and power I’d mistakenly thought the sole province of political scientists.
This is not to diminish the role of aesthetic pleasure in the study of literature and in the classrooms where I teach it, which I hope are equally animated by intensities of attention, curiosity, joy, and wonder. But I also hope that my own students come away from my classes with some sense of what first drew me to literary study as an undergrad — how American literature offers potentially transformative social understanding, challenging us to see the nation’s cultural history with ever-greater complexity and to recognize and reckon with our own ethical implication in the shape of its present and possible futures.”
Fields of research: Dance in cross-disciplinary collaboration, dance documentaries, and multimedia performance
Came to Bates in: 2010
Why I teach: “I teach to unleash creativity, critical thinking, collaborative skills, and physical experimentation in my students. They teach me by bringing their unique perspectives, knowledge, and questions from across the curriculum into their dance research.
“In technique classes, we attune ourselves to our physical and social experience with rigor and joy. In creative processes, we put our fully embodied selves at the intersection of ideas and let our questions move us. In the study of theory and history, we learn strategies for approaching dance practice as a model for action in the world.
“One of the most vital contributions that dance studies makes to academic culture is the experienced understanding that the moving body is a medium through which cultures are changed and knowledge is created. The best part of my job is helping students realize their personal ability to grow, change, and contribute creatively to any endeavor that moves them.”
Fields of research: Middle East studies, nationalism and state-building, ethnic conflict, and politics of symbolism
Came to Bates in: 2010
Why I teach: “In all classes, my main objective is to help students be critical thinkers. I also seek to break through the stigmas, myths, and generalizations about the Middle East and Islam by showing the plurality of cultures, beliefs, ideologies, and identities in the region.
“Bates’ emphasis on interdisciplinarity and close interactions between faculty and students provides an ideal environment for my research and teaching. I can effectively push my students to go beyond the easy answers that many sides offer about Middle East politics and to see the complexities and ambivalences of the region.
“I find discussions with students very rewarding as they also help me challenge my own assumptions and think of my research from different angles.”
Fields of research: Comparative politics and the influence of international migrants on the politics and economic development of their countries of origin
Came to Bates in: 2009
Why I teach: “One of the missions of Bates College is to ‘engage the transformative power of our differences, cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action.’ This mission is in line with why I teach students to evaluate government and politics in a global perspective.
“Learning about the great diversity of governing systems transforms students’ understanding of what is possible in their own country and around the world. It also gives them the tools to think rigorously about whether and how we can reform politics so that citizens everywhere can achieve the ‘good life.’
“Whether citizens achieve the ‘good life’ depends greatly on cross-border movements in and out of countries. But while mainstream debate about migration focuses on how migration affects rich receiving democracies, I try to shake students’ thinking about this question by showing them the effects on migration on sending countries.
“The greatest reward from teaching at Bates is not what I bring to students or the classroom but how teaching persistently brings new and fresh perspectives to the material I work with as a researcher. Each new generation of students arrives with new social norms and ever-shifting concerns about the world around them; they come from around the U.S. and a wide range of countries, and with a range of experiences and class, race, and gender identities. I am always learning from them.”
Fields of research: Macroeconomic theory and macroeconomic effects of incomplete or faulty information
Came to Bates in: 2012
Why I teach: “There have been many fascinating developments in both macroeconomic research and policy since I came to Bates in 2012. It has been very rewarding to be in an environment where I can both make my own contributions through my research, and where I can incorporate these new developments in the classroom.
“I have been very impressed with Bates students. They are very smart people who expect to be challenged and who work hard to understand complicated and nuanced ideas. I learn a lot about economics from teaching them.
“I am proud to be part of the Bates tradition of encouraging student research at so many levels, including both collaborating with students on academic papers and helping them form and complete their own theses.”
Fields of research: Applied microeconomics and econometrics, with interests in health, labor, and public policy
Came to Bates in: 2008, returned in 2014
Why I teach: “I can think of at least two great reasons why I teach at Bates. The first is that teaching helps keep me on my intellectual toes. As a lifelong learner, I value not only the outlet that teaching offers to talk about interesting ideas with others, but also the stimulation it provides to look back at my own endeavors in new ways.
“The second is that I get to be a small part of the intellectual and personal growth of many truly impressive people. Those relationships represent the most rewarding part of teaching.”
Promotions to full professor
Department: Religious studies
Fields of research: Ancient Judaism and Christianity, gender and religion, and historiography of religion
Came to Bates in: 2008
Why I teach: “Religion asks the big questions — the ones about life and death, love and meaning, good and evil. The field of religious studies explores how people have asked and answered these questions throughout history and across cultures.
“Religions can inspire breathtaking creativity and profound human connection while at the same time authorizing devastating harm and appalling atrocity. A phenomenon this powerful begs to be better understood, and religious studies responds by examining religion as a human phenomenon in its multiple dimensions and effects, using tools drawn from pretty much every discipline you can imagine.
“I teach because I believe that a critical understanding of religion is vital. It’s deeply gratifying (and often quite fun) to pursue big questions and small discoveries with bright, inquisitive students from whom I inevitably gain new insights and perspectives.”
Program: Environmental studies
Fields of research: Ecosystem development and history; linkages among atmospheric, terrestrial, and aquatic ecosystems
Came to Bates in: 2004
Why I teach: “My favorite places to engage with students are in the field and while mulling over data. There is nothing like seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching the world to bring questions, possibility, and new understanding to life.
“And, back in the lab, the data show the world from yet another perspective that is made richer and understood differently because we spent time in the field together.”
Field of research: Late-medieval English, French, and Latin literature, particularly intersections between historical and textual culture
Came to Bates in: 2005
Why I teach: “Teaching at Bates inspires me to think everyday about how the past matters: how the Middle Ages, for better and for worse, are not so unlike our own historical moment, and how young people today, our future leaders, can learn from medieval voices — not only to find their own but to forge perhaps a new and more productive way of framing otherness.”
Field of research: Brain structure and function in context of mental health and mental illness, and affective-cognitive processing in healthy aging
Came to Bates in: 2006
Why I teach: “Research is the most powerful form of life-long learning that I know. My role as a professor is to help students build an interdisciplinary foundation that will support decades of vigorous, sustained intellectual curiosity.
Across the Bates curriculum, we encourage students to transition from being passive consumers of knowledge to being active curators and, finally, to junior research colleagues who delight in asking the big, bold questions and who have the right mixture of bravery and humility to attempt to answer them.”