May 2017 New Faculty Interview

Dr. Chris Carter, Assistant Professor, Theology and Religious Studies

Chris Carter

With the academic year coming to a close, there are many opportunities for reflection. This past year for new faculty has been filled with invaluable teaching moments, learning opportunities, and growth. In honor of this, the CEE has met with Dr. Chris Carter, our September 2016 New Faculty Interviewee to reflect on his first year at USD.  

Looking back at his first year at USD, Dr. Carter finds it difficult to select only a few courses and teaching moments to reflect on. He remembers many students, teaching moments, and courses that has made his first year at USD the most memorable yet. This comes as no surprise, since Dr. Carter is heavily invested in his work. His research focuses on theological and philosophical ethics, specifically in regards to Black and Womanist theology, the environment, in addition to animals and religion. When listening to Dr. Carter’s insights, it becomes evident that he dedicates himself to helping students understand why these topics matter to them and to the world around them.

In asking him to select some of his favorite courses, Dr. Carter selected his Black & Womanist Theology course in addition to his Theology & Environmental Ethics course. He specified these two classes because over the year he found that students would leave transformed. His Black & Womanist Theology courses has a strong connection to spirituality which he found to be a catalyst for the personal development of his students. Secondly, his Theology & Environmental Ethics frequently considers real-world issues which makes it a very practical class.

Dr. Carter’s main intentions for his students is to leave them transformed and have a stronger spirituality connection. He wants his students to learn how to think more critically and outside the box about different social, political, and ethical issues surrounding them. One example of this in Dr. Carter’s classroom was of a student who considered themselves to be anti-immigration. In this situation, it wasn’t necessarily the student’s position that he took issue with but rather that their argument lacked consistency with their beliefs. Dr. Carter wanted this student to think more critically about all the arguments regarding immigration, even his own. More importantly, he wanted this student to connect it to the theological and ethical concepts talked about in class. To his surprise, upon receiving this student's final paper not only had they demonstrated consistency in their argument but had also written Dr. Carter a thank you note. Dr.

Dr. Carter has had many great moments in teaching over the past year and he would only want the same for incoming faculty. For these faculty, he suggests getting more involved in campus. He believes that when you get involved, you connect more with your students and the community. Engaging with your students, according to Dr. Carter, allows professors to hear their insights regarding the issues discussed in class. It also allows the students to develop a sense of community inside and outside of the classroom. Lastly, Dr. Carter emphasizes that engagement gives professor the opportunity to become an advocate or a mentor which can make any faculty’s first year all the better.