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

We are happy to be back after a restful summer! In this episode, we speak about our readings, presentations and teaching, publications and upcoming projects. Please note that the Inquisitive Minds Podcast will now be produced once a month, but episodes will be slightly longer. 

00:0000:00
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.

00:0000:00
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!


00:0000:00
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.

00:0000:00
We continue our discussion of Hector Avalos' book, Fighting Words. The Origins of Religious Violence. Scholars have a social responsibility to denounce false reasoning when it comes to religion and violence; expose lies which contribute to the detriment of humanity. For example, several biblical scholars and most Bible believers maintain the relevance of their sacred text through "hermeneutical gymnastics", by offering "new" interpretations of ethically questionable biblical texts despite the fact of misrepresenting their content. It is also often thought that scholars should not be critical when it comes to certain religious / theological beliefs and practices; but such a stance in the context of the university would be unique, since all scholarly fields should normally adopt a critical perspective in research. According to Avalos, biblical and religion scholars are responsible to "analyze how religion may contribute to the detriment or well-being of humanity based on verifiable facts and reason."

00:0000:00

As a follow-up to last weeks episode, we continue our discussion on the value of critical thinking. But one might ask: What exactly is critical thinking and what are the steps of inquiry needed to engage in such a practice? When tackling specific questions, people need to go beyond the descriptive and carefully analyse the topic at hand through the use of a coherent methodology, as well as to evaluate the outcome of any given inquiry. Failing to identify the implications of our reasoning is the most common mistake when attempting to apply critical thinking.

00:0000:00

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.

00:0000:00