Saturday, 31 March 2012

-and Jesus came into Jerusalem

The RREbloggers are now taking a well-deserved Easter Holiday, if not from our studies so at least from the blog. But dont worry, after Easter we can offer you more interviews with professors, interviews with former students, AND an inside report about how to stay calm and still be productive, when thesis-deadlines are ticking clooser!

Happy Easter from Denmark/England!
Hilde and Annie

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Five questions to the professor

Still staying in Aarhus, we asked Jakob Engberg to answer our questionary. Jakob is the head of our program, and is doing a brilliant job, I would say.  (and no, I am not handing in any exampapers to him this semester;)

1. Please state your name, age, university and connection to the RREprogram.
Jakob Engberg; 40 years old; Aarhus University; coordinator for the whole programme (since it was launched); coordinator for Aarhus; part of the team that applied for support for the developing of the programme (2007), developed it (2007-2009) and launched it (2009).

2. What is your area of expertise? and which courses do you teach in the RREprogram?
Expertise: the relationship between different religious groups in antiquity, e.g. persecution, polemics, apologetics, conversion. I teach a course on Apologetics and conversion and have taught another on Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire, both interaction courses. In addition I teach the thesis colloquium in Aarhus.

3. How do you find this way of teaching, which is not regular university courses but also not distance learning?
I enjoy very much to be together with the students for compact seminars in and out of classes. But I also appreciate the e-learning not least because I observe that it gives the students practice in writing about the subject making the transition to the exam-paper les abrupt than for “normal” students who for a whole term have written next to nothing about a subject and then are asked suddenly to write a whole 10-page paper on it.

4. What do you expect from your students?
Commitment and diligence academically; frankness in any dealings with fellow students and with me and other teachers.

5. If you could have any superhuman power, what would it be and why?
My wife would greatly appreciate if my craftsmanship was on the level of Vulcan’s (or even on the level of a human handyman). When encountering legal obstacles during the development of RRE it would have been nice to be cunning like the Norse god Loki. Sometimes a fancy spear like Odin’s Gungnir (it was unstoppable) or a thunderbolt like Jupiter’s would even have been nice. But knowing my own character I better wish for a divine ability that I cannot misuse to the detriment of others: patience!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

five questions to the professor

This weeks interview, as we move ourselves from Copenhagen to Aarhus, is with Professor Marianne Scheicher from the religious department at Aarhus University. The second cycle students had a compact seminar in Aarhus in December last year, and one of the very bests things was that all three "Three religions"-professors plus Jakob joined us for dinner and a drink :)

Name:            Marianne Schleicher
Age:               41
University:       University of Aarhus
RRE-affiliation:Associate Professor

Area of expertise:
Judaism from Antiquity till today
Cultural functions of scriptural use
Gender and Sexuality in religious contexts
Jewish mysticism

Courses taught:“The three religions in contemporary perspective”

Evaluation of the RRE-forms of teaching:
I question the benefitsof posting a lot of information on our E-platforms, such as AULA, withouthaving the possibility of looking you in the eye to see if you follow myreasoning and thereby of rephrasing what may be difficult to understand.However, the E-chat room provides a corrective to this challenge. I value theweekly assignments highly in that they enable a personal dialogue betweenstudent and professor where I as a professor can counter misunderstandings etc.within a week (where non-distance teaching allows students to hide and wait foran evaluation of their understanding until the exam). The compact seminar is myfavourite because I meet with students with whom I have corresponded already,which allows for an atmosphere of familiarity.

I expect discipline fromthe students in their habits of studying, i.e. that they read prior to the E-confrontations,reflect independently on the content, and that they submit their weeklyassignments in a form that reflects commitment and the best of efforts.

Superhuman power …:
If I had superhuman power,I would make use of my special ability to be in several places at the same time!Why? Because it could help me counter the problems specified above about E-learning,and it would enable me to accomplish what I consider ideal vis-à-vis being amother, a partner, a colleague, a professor, and an individual who wants todevelop as well.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A quick reminder from Bergen :)

The 15.of April is the deadline for applicants from Norway  who would like to join the RREprogram in Bergen. You find more information here: (there is also a link called "detailed information about structure and admission)

and you are very welcome to contact us by religiousroots(a) if you have any questions related to being a student in Norway and specifically Bergen. 

The next deadline for international students is in December 2012 (for autumn 2013 admission)

 Bergen is a busy town, being Norways second most populated one, which means a lot of stuff happens here for students, and you can allways find activities to join toghether with other international and Norwegian students.  At the same time you can also find silence and time to reflect, in the beautiful mountains surrounding the city. you dont need to be a climber, for as you can see from the pictures below, there are good hiking-roads to walk on.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Five questions to the professor

At each RREuniversity there are at least one person responsible for RRE and in personal contact with the students of that specific university. They also teach courses in the program. But in addition, there are several professors who belongs to one of the six RREuniversities and who have been asked to teach a course or parts of a course. We decided to ask professor Riem Spielhaus from Copenhagen University how she finds the RREprogram.

1. Please state your name,age, university and connection to the RREprogram

My name is Riem Spielhaus and I am researcher at the Centre for European Islamic Thought at Kopenhagen University. My research centre is located at the Theological Faculty that invited us to contribute to the RREprogram.

2. What is your area of expertise? and which courses do you teach in the RREprogram?

This and last year I taught the part on Islam within the course Emergence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In my daily life I do research on Muslims in Europe and currently am working on a project that critically looks at the many opinion surveys that have been produced about Muslims in Europe in the last ten years.

3. How do you find the this way of teaching, which is not regular university courses but also not distance learning?

I find teaching a distance learning course a bit less personal. One simply does not have the same opportunities to meet students like on campus. But it is amazing how a strong relationship can grow in a short semester with those students that are engaged in our chats and ask me questions via email. Even though I don't necessarily have a picture of the students, by reading all the written texts of them in short essays, chat comments, summaries they upload and the final essay I seem do get a full image of him or her anyway. The other thing I enjoy is that professors in this program interact really closely. I have learned a lot from both students and other professors about the other religious roots.

4. What do you expect from your students?

Without expecting that, I think in order to survive such a distance learning course you have to have a lot of motivation and sincerety. And this is what sometimes really astonishes me with our students. For me, seeing professors in the seminar or lecture used to be one of the biggest motivations to engage with knowledge. So I really admire everybody who can find this motivation in her or himself. What I do expect beyond that especially in this program is a willingness to question and relativize own roots and traditions. That does not mean students have to change or even distance themselves from their faith or religious convictions, but to learn to take a similare perspective to other and the own religion. Only then we can compare or contrast these religions. I think this in detail can be quite challenging, already because we know so much more about the religion we grew up with and with which were taught to see and interpret the world. And I hope we can organize an event to discuss questions of 'objectivity,' an issue that we did not have time enough for in the Emergency course. Apart from that many students really need to work on their academic writing skills. This will make things a lot easier.

5. If you could have any superhuman power, what would it be and why?

I have to pass that one. Let me stick with my humanity. Or maybe: the ability to be at two places at the same time? Though this would totally mess up my schedule. Probably I should just learn to enjoy every moment and not ask for more.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Is there a life after RRE?

Graduating from RRE this spring and still dident figure out what comes next? well, here is a solution for you, which also makes you able to stay in Scandinavia!

Centre for Medieval Literature (CML) is a Centre of Excellence funded by The Danish National Research Foundation. The centre is operative for six years from February 1st 2012, with a possibility of a further grant for four years.

CML will seek to establish a cross-disciplinary theoretical framework for the study of medieval literature on a European scale.

The Centre is located at The University of Southern Denmark (Odense) and at The University of York and is run by prof. Lars Boje Mortensen (Centre leader, SDU), reader Elizabeth Tyler (York), and associate prof. Christian Høgel (SDU). CML furthermore consists of participants from York and Odense and of a wider group of European and North American scholars.

PhD-fellowships and Postdoc fellowships in Medieval Literature can be applied for from medio March with a deadline of April 30 and employment from September. The applications must fall within one of the three strands ‘Fictionality’, ‘Interfaces’ or ‘Canonization’ and must be comparative as described in the research programm

a short but important message

The deadline for Copenhagen is now 1.of April. So if you havent applied yet, now is the time to do so!

Dont have any summerplans yet? Check out this great opportunity!

I am sorry for the bad quality, but as it says, the adress to read more about Aarhus summer university is, and you can contact either or the professor Anders Christian Jakobsen for more information. One of the lectureres, Nick Marshall, previously studied RRE! :)

Five questions to the professor

As promised, this weeks blogpost also contains an interview with an RREprofessor from Lund. Samuel is a dedicated RREprofessor who also takes well care of his students, the RREs studying in Lund told me they have been invited to dinner at his place both in their first and second year as roots-students.

1. Please state your name,age, university and connection to the RREprogram

Samuel Rubenson, 56 years, Lund University, co-founder, representing LU at the steering committee, teacher and examiner

2. What is your area of expertise? and which courses do you teach in the RREprogram?

My expertise is in Early Church history and the history of the Churches in the Middle  East. I have in particular worked on the transformation of classical education and philosophy in early Christianity, on the rise of monasticism and the history of the Coptic Church. In RRE I have been teaching the courses "The Rise of Asceticism and Monasticism in Late Antiquity", "Ancient Philosophy and the Emergence of Theology" and the "Thesis Colloquium".

3. How do you find the this way of teaching, which is not regular university courses but also not distance learning?

The internet learning has the great advantage of having students from other universities attending the courses which creates larger networks, an interesting mix and opportunities to learn from the educational traditions of lther places.. The disadvanateg is that I do not see the students and they do not have the same opportunities to get to know each other as they would have in a campus course.

4. What do you expect from your students?

Most of all I expect great curiosity about the religious roots of Europe, the common background of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the encounter between Graeco-Roman civilization and Semitic culture. Secondly I accept great openness to listen to voices from other traditions, both from other students and teachers, and from the literature and the texts. Finally I expect readiness to question one's own ideas and prejudices. In addition I certainly expect willingness to work hard.

5. If you could have any superhuman power, what would it be and why?

I wish I was able to read more, understand more and remember more, so that I would be able to understand everyone from every culture throughout history and through this understanding contribute to peace among humankind