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Advice for Aspiring/Young Academics in Theology (and related subjects)

October 27, 2017

A former colleague from a few decades ago has a blog site with lots of advice for young/initial academics, his latest posting: “Write it Out and Write it Down” here.  There are a number of other postings on his site that those contemplating postgraduate study in Theology/Religion may find helpful.

His point is particularly directed at potential applicants for academic posts at higher education institutions that claim a Christian affiliation.  It’s a sad fact that administrations of such institutions can be guilty of the sort of handling of academic staff that ought to be seen as in utter conflict with their Christian claims, and that wouldn’t be attempted at “secular” institutions.  I’ve complained about the matter earlier here.

I suspect that I’m the person in his posting who was told that he was regarded as “feisty” and so didn’t get the job for which the interview took place.  And I know also that it’s important to have something in writing, and that administrators can develop bizarre lapses of professed memory loss.  Stackhouse is correct that good administrators and institutions will freely commit any promises to writing, and those that balk at this likely do so because for no good reason.  You don’t want to be awkward or belligerent, of course, but a quiet request that “terms and conditions” of employment, and procedures for progression, etc., be spelled out is in order.  (And, really, applicants shouldn’t have to request this.  Institutions should provide these things without being asked to do so.)


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  1. GPG permalink

    I guess it all worked out? As I recall, your appointment as head of the Edinburgh divinity school got a mention in Newsweek or Time?

    • Hmm. I don’t think I ever made it into Time or Newsweek! But, yes, though deemed too “feisty” for one place, the Edinburgh people thought they could accommodate me.

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