Theological School Scholar of the Year Joins Williams as Visiting Professor
Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre will begin the professorship in the spring.
September 2015 – Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, the Teacher/Scholar of the Year at Drew Theological School, is taking her scholarship on the road.
Williams College recently named Johnson-DeBaufre to its Croghan Bicentennial Professorship in Biblical and Early Christian Studies. Under the visiting professorship, she’ll spend the spring and fall of next year at Williams, conducting research and participating in the academic community.
“Some of my intellectual mentors have been Croghan professors,” said Johnson-DeBaufre. “I am very proud to be named among them.“
A specialist in New Testament and Early Christianity, Johnson-DeBaufre examines both the history of Christianity and the contemporary uses of the New Testament. At Williams, she’ll complete a book on understanding the letters of the apostle Paul through theories about space, place and material culture. “Theology never appears out of nowhere,” Johnson-DeBaufre said. “It always comes out of the realities of everyday life.”
Johnson-DeBaufre, who’s an associate professor and acting associate dean at the Theological School, regularly leads Ph.D. students on archaeological seminars in Greece and Turkey, where she teaches through material culture and discusses how stories about the past play a role in contemporary conflicts around national identity, borders and territory. Her popular cross-cultural trip to Turkey introduces Master of Divinity students to different religious and ethnic communities to foster cultural sensitivity and intercultural understanding. Johnson-DeBaufre has a Master of Theological Studies and a Ph.D. from Harvard Divinity School and is ordained in the American Baptist Churches USA.
Theological School Dean Javier Viera, in recommending Johnson-DeBaufre for Teacher/Scholar of the Year—an award that’s sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry—praised her scholarship and commitment to students. “She presents superb scholarly content, facilitates profound class reflection and creates safe spaces for students to present their own research,” Viera said.
For the visiting professorship, Johnson-DeBaufre will take a leave from Drew, where she has worked for 11 years, and return once it’s over. “Although I will miss Drew,” she said, “I look forward to learning with and from the students and faculty at Williams.”