Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on History, Religion, Politics and Culture

We are so happy to be back! We hope that listeners enjoyed the summer, and that some of you had time to catch up on past episode. As we ease into fall, we decided to share some of our current and future projects, and also say a few words about upcoming events that could of interest to our listeners.

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In this episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we have decided to discuss a chapter from Russell T. McCutcheon's book, The Discipline of Religion: Structure, Meaning, Rhetoric (2013). Our podcast focuses on chapter 6 entitled, "Alienation, Apprenticeship, and the Crisis of Academic Labor." This section addresses important questions related to the discipline of religious studies and the current expectations placed on graduate students if they wish to have a shot at an academic job! McCutcheon rightly notes that, "... pre-professional candidates must meet such professional standards as peer-reviewed publication, excellence in teaching, and public presentation of their research at conferences before even gaining entrance to the profession. It was and still is a market in which candidates may very well have a more extensive publication record than many of the people interviewing them. It is a market in which, at many schools, it takes far superior credentials to get a job interview (let alone the job!) than it might have taken one's interviewers to have been awarded tenure."

Please note that this is our last podcast of the season. We will resume our episodes around mid-September. Have a great summer and hope you can take this time to re-listen or catch up on the podcast!


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In this last episode of the year, we thought it would be good to end with a discussion on the purpose of the University. With the increasing corporization of the university, one wonders what the purpose of post-secondary education today can be? Do universities exist solely to help people get a job, and what role should universities play in society? We also look into the recent controversies concerning political correctness on certain university campuses. Universities, we contend, are places where open discussion and debate about ideas should be found, where bad ideologies are to be thoroughly critiqued and where students acquire critical thinking skills. This is the only way students can be prepared to face the harsh realities of life; in a nutshell, the university is not a place for the fainthearted; it is not a "safe-space" to shelter one from controversial ideas and sensitive issues. 

Please note that our next episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast will air on January 18th, 2016. We would like to wish all our listeners a Happy Holiday Season and all the best for 2016.

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After interviewing Dr. Hector Avalos during our last two episodes of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we decided to do a short recap on some of the topics covered at our recent Religion and Violence conference, held at Concordia (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) last June. In this episode, André Gagné, Calogero A. Miceli and Costa Babalis briefly discuss the content of their papers and the purpose for hosting such a conference. Please note that an edited volume of the papers is currently in the works. Listeners will be informed in the coming weeks when the publication will be available for purchase.

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At the start of the academic year, we decided to talk about the importance of critical thinking in the context of the university. Each semester, professors need to remind students that university life is designed to help them engage in the critical examination of a wide range of topics, some of which deal with various ways of thinking and diverse human experiences. This is especially true when it comes to topics such as religion and / or theological studies. In the context of a secular university, students are expected to learn how to think critically about different belief systems, ritual practices and experiences which are deemed religious. University classes are not to be faith-based, but rather fact-based. Critical thinkers are not afraid to have their preconceptions challenged. The university is a place where people can expand their minds and get a broad perspective on life.

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