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Graduate Roundtable

The Graduate Roundtable is an inter-disciplinary reading and discussion group that gives graduate students at the University of Florida the opportunity for theological reflection on the scholarly issues that arise in academic work.

The group’s discussions grow out of specific short readings and focus on important issues that emerge in academic discourse. The group also provides the opportunity for graduate students to discuss their own scholarship with their peers.

More Details

who… The Graduate Roundtable is a reading group for University of Florida graduate students who are interested in the nexus of religion and scholarship. Participation is also open to college graduates who are preparing to enter a graduate program.

what… While there are other groups that seek to encourage Christian graduate students, our effort is to identify important texts to read together and discuss deeply and regularly, with the hope that we can help cultivate thinking that is rooted in Christian understanding and that could come to bear on one’s own academic work. To put it another way, we want to help graduate students nurture the intersection of Christian thought and their own discipline-specific work. As for the disciplines that we have in view, we welcome people from whatever discipline they are a part of, but we focus on topics that emerge most prominently in the humanities and social sciences.

expectations… The only requirement (expectation) is that participants read and reflectively consider the selected reading for a given session. Like a seminar, the discussions work best when people read and then come and contribute to the conversation. In general, we meet once or twice a month.

more rationale…> While the topics of this reading group will vary from semester to semester, we seek to promote dialogue with other thoughtful graduate students about issues that emerge in the academy for which religious voices might make a contribution. As an exploration of those issues, we hope to nurture theological reflection in relation to our disciplines. This initiative is an extension of the ongoing work of the Center to explore the intersection of Christian thought and academic discourse.

Our Readings

It has been said that Christian academics have a dual mandate or calling in which they have “two reading lists”. These readings ultimately shape one’s scholarship. Furthermore, they function to supply and undergird one’s thinking in the identification and/or creation of a framework for engaging in one’s discipline. One list contains the important and relevant texts in a person’s discipline; the other list is made up of important and relevant texts for theological formation and Christian understanding. It is this second reading list that creates a fundamental orientation which will frame everything else. But beyond the pertinent reading, significant intellectual and theological development comes together through a conversation that shares reading lists. Part of the benefit is simply knowing there are others working on the same kinds of questions/tensions/possibilities as Christian scholars, but an even bigger help is actually reading rich and thought-provoking essays and books that one would not get to on one’s own as a way to better develop intellectually and theologically.

Over the years this reading group has proven fruitful, and it has helped open up new ways of thinking for those involved. Following is an essay that gets at some of the perspective that we hope to foster:

Faith, Reason and Quality Assurance – Having Faith in Academic Life

For me a dogma is only a gateway to contemplation and is an instrument of freedom and not of restriction. It preserves mystery for the human mind.

Flannery O'Connor