Classics Department Statement on Scholarship

What forms of scholarship define the work of Luther faculty in Classics?

Classics is the study of the remains of the ancient Greco-Roman world in all their various forms, whether literary or material. Classicists by training must be well-versed in the Greek and Latin languages, but their scholarship may be in areas as diverse as archaeology, poetry, religion, gender studies, history, or science. Indeed Classics is the study of the entire spectrum of the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome stretching from prehistory to their influence in the modern day.

Ideally the scholarship of the Luther Classics faculty should contribute to opportunities for learning among Luther students and to advancing knowledge of the ancient world among specialists and the general public. The best scholars are those who can take their research and make it applicable in the classroom, among interested laypeople, and in the wider academic community.

Any list of the forms such scholarship could take would by necessity be incomplete as the areas of fruitful research in Classics are virtually unlimited and because new forms of scholarship are always arising. But some of the more important forms of communicating scholarship would be original research presented in academic journals, books, and electronic media, translations, monographs, book chapters, encyclopedia articles, presentation of papers at scholarly conferences and lectures, outreach to local schools and to the community, and—not least of all—in teaching students.

Classical scholarship often involves co-authorship and it should be recognized that in cases of multiple authors all make an important contribution to the final scholarly product.

What forms of peer review are appropriate for Classics faculty?

Such review can take many forms. Publication in peer-reviewed academic journals and books, whether in print or in other media, would be the most common means. Papers presented at academic conferences and invited lectures can also be important. But publication of scholarship in popular or various non-traditional forms can also be significant and should be considered according to the individual case.

How can we encourage and enable colleagues to apply the fruits of professional activities in their teaching?

The most important way is to provide an atmosphere that encourages faculty to apply the results of their research on campus. Some of the ways this can be done are in a formal classroom setting, through individual and small-group research collaboration, in study-away courses, and through presentations to students outside the classroom.

It is important to note that not all research done by Luther Classics faculty will be readily applicable to teaching undergraduate students nor should we expect it to be. Some research by nature is quite specialized and understanding it requires the mastery of advanced skills. But even the most esoteric forms of research can often find some practical application in the Luther classroom.

What are the expected achievements in scholarship at the third-year review, tenure review, and application for promotion to associate or full professor?

During the first three years on the tenure-track in the Luther College Classics department, faculty members are expected to work on becoming better and more effective teachers—but this should not be at the expense of their own research. Finding the elusive but necessarily balance between teaching, service, and scholarship should be the goal that new faculty members strive for. Senior faculty and the administration have a responsibility to help them in any way they can.

It should also be noted that the process of peer review for scholarly publication in Classics can be exceedingly slow, so that significant work towards academic publication must often be taken into consideration as much as actual words in print.

Third-year review: By this time, faculty should demonstrate that they have an active research agenda and are making good progress towards academic publication. They should also be involved in presenting their research at academic conferences or other appropriate venues.

Tenure and promotion to associate professor: candidates should show evidence of peer-reviewed scholarly publication or significant work towards that goal. Presentation at academic conferences or other appropriate venues is expected.

Promotion to full professor: faculty members should have peer-reviewed publications and should be active in presenting their work at academic conferences or invited lectures.

What distinctive forms of scholarship can thrive at a liberal arts college of the church?

The promotion of a broad intellectual curiosity and development of the entire person, including ethical and spiritual concerns, is at the heart of a liberal arts education at a college of the church. Scholarship that encourages such exploration is therefore most appropriate at our college. But particular to our discipline in relation to the Christian tradition, the Luther Classics department has long been committed to educating students about the world in which Christianity arose. Likewise, almost any scholarship done by Classics faculty helps to illuminate that world.

(October 2011)