Dr. Peter Slade: Chair of the religion department

Department Chair Spotlight

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Dr. Peter Slade: Chair of the religion department

Dr. Peter Slade, chair of the religion department at AU.

Dr. Peter Slade, chair of the religion department at AU.

Submitted by Dr. Peter Slade

Dr. Peter Slade, chair of the religion department at AU.

Submitted by Dr. Peter Slade

Submitted by Dr. Peter Slade

Dr. Peter Slade, chair of the religion department at AU.

Zach Read, MANAGING EDITOR OF THE COLLEGIAN

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The religion department meets many students coming in and out of their classes, since they satisfy the religion core requirement, and even humanities.

“One of the things we say in religion is we ask the big questions. Like Ashland University, we’re not about telling people what to think, we’re teaching them how to think critically and faithfully about issues of religion. In many ways, we are a Christian studies department,” Dr. Peter Slade, professor of religion and chair of the religion department, said.

The major and minor brings speakers on campus every year and has a number of students involved in the Office of Christian Ministry. There is also an honors society and the anti-human trafficking group.

“When we’re talking to folks about what it’s like to come in and study in this department, we say ‘we go deep and wide,’” Slade said. “If you want to study issues of faith and religion, here, we help you go deeper into your own tradition and we encourage you to do that. We also want you to go wide. Christianity has been going on for a good two-thousand years and there’s an awful lot of it out here, and an awful lot of good stuff which we can all learn from.”

Two of the four faculty are ordained ministers. Their perspective is: coming from inside the Christian tradition, but studying the academic study of religion.

World religions is studied because Slade believes it is important for a global citizen to know “what you’re fellow global citizens believe and inspires them.”

Submitted by Peter Slade

Teaching areas in the religion department consist of biblical studies; ethics and theology; church history, or religious history more broadly; and practical theology with an emphasis in global Christianity.

Religion students do not have a required internship (though some students still do one); they have a capstone project, otherwise known as the thesis. Students can connect this capstone to their internship.

A number of students are pre seminary students. Through the department and the Office of Christian Ministry, are involved in leadership positions in local churches or here on campus.

Slade is in his 14th year at AU and fifth year as chair.

“I graduated with a Ph.D from the University of Virginia and I looked at all the jobs that I could apply for,” Slade said. “Professor jobs are very competitive. Ashland University was advertising and I saw that it was a good fit for what I studied and taught, I applied and I got in. And here I am. I had no idea where Ashland, Ohio was. I packed up my young family in a van and moved here in 2006. I am very pleased to be teaching here at Ashland.”

Historically, the religion department was a Bible department. Until the 1980s, all students had to take four credits, two in Old Testament and two in New Testament. At that point, the department started offering more classes and started hiring nationally. Dr. Aune, a Bible professor, is the first person hired on a national search in the department.

“Lots of the things that we do, we don’t realize, is incredibly important skills for life,” Slade said. “We study things we don’t know about, we set deadlines, we meet deadlines, we work with each other, this is so important: we learn how to discuss difficult and really personal issues, and to discuss it with people who may have different views than us.”

“Some people think that having a civil discussion means having to agree to disagree. That’s not it. It’s not it to be disagreeable, it’s really seeking after truth… Learning how to do that sets you up to be a really useful and productive member of society in America today in which people are seeming incapable of civility, incapable of reaching consensus and seeking after truth.”

Many alumni get involved in their churches, others become very active lay leaders in their congregations.

Submitted by Dr. Peter Slade

“We like to think we’re producing students who will be dangerous out there in the world, and do some damage in a good way; make an impact,” Slade said.

The department just launched the minor in Corrections Education and have as many undergraduate students in prison right now as on campus. Starting this semester (Fall 2019), they’re signing up to be religion minors.

It is 30 credit hours to be a religion major, so many students double major with the religion department.

“[This department] is fundamentally important for our country right now to have a better understanding of what’s going on. How we should faithfully engage with our churches, with our faith, with our fellow citizens, with our children,” Slade said.

Anyone with questions can email Slade at [email protected]

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