Sabbatical Opportunity Cultivates Culture of Scholarship

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The University of Olivet is not only committed to providing an affordable, inclusive and relationship-based education to students, but the College is also dedicated to a strong culture of scholarship among faculty members.
A sabbatical awarded to Dustin J. Byrd, Ph.D., associate professor of humanities, is just one example of how The University of Olivet supports professional development across the campus community.
“The University of Olivet is known for its teaching; the amount of time, energy and resources we put into pedagogy is beyond what a lot of our fellow liberal arts schools do,” Byrd said. “This has given us the reputation of being a ‘teaching school,’ and this is true; we are a teaching school. But, teaching needs research and active participation within the broader academy. Raising the scholastic reputation of the College will involve getting more faculty the time and resources necessary to engage in robust research projects.
“When research is married to the teaching experience, our students benefit, for they learn from those who are recognized as being authoritative within their fields. That authority doesn’t come simply because we have a degree on the wall, but because we are actively contributing to our field of study.”
An Examination of Alt-Fascism
Byrd’s interests span widely across societal issues, including philosophy, history, sociology, psychology and religious studies. His next book, the focus of his fall 2019 sabbatical, will examine the philosophical and religious roots, foundations and contemporary development of “Alt-Fascism.”
“My current research is on what I call ‘Alt-Fascism.’ These are alternative forms of fascism that have an increased visibility in our public sphere in the last decade,” Byrd said. “I’m aiming to distinguish between the ‘fascist core’ or ‘fascist minimum,’ and what is ancillary to fascism. These new ‘nationalist’ groups most often embrace the fascist core, while appearing to be something other than fascists. I argue that what makes a movement fascist is not its appearance, but its essence — its foundational core.”
This book marks the fifth major work of Byrd’s research and authorship. In addition, it is the first book written and published under his own publishing house, the Ekpyrosis Press.
“President Corey, Provost Davis and the rest of the administration have demonstrated their commitment to scholarship by offering sabbaticals to faculty who wish to pursue research,” Byrd said. “Through my sabbatical, I hope to encourage others to take time off from teaching so that they can harness their passions for their subject matters and create new knowledge within their disciplines.”


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