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Welcome to my faculty website. Whether you landed on this page intentionally or accidentally, thanks for visiting. I hope you find something useful. (Note: new site under construction, set for 2021 release).

Words of gratitude. A few words before I offer the obligatory academic bio with some of my bona fides. My apologies in advance for the academic pomp and circumstance. The best of the pomp, truly, is the result of working with brilliant and gracious students and colleagues throughout the years, much brighter and wiser than I am by far (no false humility intended). The circumstance, well, I humbly and gladly accept all of it. I’m deeply indebted to them all.

A “working scholar.” To begin, I am a professor of communication and media, a teacher, and a writer. As a “working scholar” I stay busy year-round teaching and mentoring graduate students. I taught at Spring Arbor University (SAU), a liberal arts college in south-central Michigan, for 20 years. I taught in both undergraduate and graduate programs, and spent the last 10 years or so in the graduate program online. I’ve worked in higher education for about 25 years. I teach courses in communication theory, research, media and culture, leadership, ethics, and more. I regularly taught our program’s courses in communication for first-year students.

Christianity and Communication Studies Network. I am also the Executive Director of the Christianity and Communication Studies Network (CCSN) (www.theccsn.com). The CCSN is a network for individuals interested in questions at the intersection between Christianity and communication studies. Please check out our website and follow the CCSN on Facebook to get a sense of what resources are available for you. It’s all free!

Mentoring. As a faculty member and administrator, I mentor students who want to become more faithful and effective communicators in all areas of life, and who want to participate in professional and academic research. I also help prepare students who are interested in pursuing doctoral studies in communication. My students present papers at the National Communication Association, Religious Communication Association, and other regional conferences. Several of my students have published research in peer-reviewed journals and other academic venues. I learn as much from my students as I do when I teach them!

Education and Awards. I earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from Regent University, Virginia, and I am licensed to practice law in Virginia. I also hold masters degrees in education and counseling. Since joining Spring Arbor University’s faculty in 2001 I’ve received the Graduate Faculty Scholar Award, the Faculty Merit Award on three separate occasions, the Second Mile Service Award, and two Faculty Scholarship and Research Appointments. I was Visiting Research Scholar, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Institute for Communications Research (2007-2009). I have served as the President of the Religious Communication Association (RCA). I was named Scholar of the Year by RCA in 2013. My most recent book is with Kevin Healey (University of New Hampshire) on Digital Proverbs and the Moral Catechism of Silicon Valley (Routledge, 2019), which recently received the Book of the Year Award by the Religious Communication Association.

Publications. My articles appear in journals such as the Review of Religious Research, Journal of Media and Religion, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Christian Scholar’s Review, Christian Higher Education, among others. My books include The Message in the Music: Studying Contemporary Praise and Worship (with Brian Walrath), Understanding Evangelical Media: The Changing Face of Christian Communication (with Quentin Schultze), Prophetically Incorrect: A Christian Introduction to Media Criticism (with Paul Patton) Prophetic Critique and Popular Media: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Applications (with Kevin Healey), and a three-volume edited collection on Evangelical Christians and Popular Culture that was published in 2013, to name several. I recently completed Words and Witnesses: Communication Studies in Christian Thought from Athanasius to Desmond Tutu (Hendrickson, 2018), with Naaman Wood.

Paul Patton and I have a project due out with Cascade Books in 2021 titled Everyday Sabbath: How to Lead Your Dance with Media and Technology in Mindful and Sacred Ways. And Jonathan Pettigrew (Arizona State University) and I have an edited collection due out in 2021 titled Professing Christ: Christian Tradition and Teaching in Public Universities (Wipf & Stock). [Note: If you want a podcast on faith, communication, and culture with substance, you can follow Paul’s podcast titled “Soul Stirrings.”]

Outreaches. My wife Rebekah and I will be helping to facilitate the 2022 Pacific Advance that is part of Leonard Sweet’s SpiritVenture ministries. Please consider joining us. This event was initially scheduled for March 2021, but thanks to Covid-19 we have postponed it.

Personal Interests. When I’m not teaching or writing I enjoy playing with our four-legged children (three dogs and one cat), playing my guitar, learning banjo and mandolin, and working on my Hall and Oates cover band with my wife. I love watching soccer and 1980 action-adventure films (sometimes at the same time), gardening, training therapy dogs, and trying my hand at any number of do-it-yourself home improvement projects. My most popular was a bookshelf wall where one of the bookshelves is a door to a hidden room.

Pacific Northwest. If you don’t know about Great Northern University (GNU) in the pacific northwest, please check them out. I am currently teaching a course for GNU this semester. The pacific northwest is one of the most unchurched regions in the country and GNU is on the frontlines. Their story is amazing.

Please feel free contact me if you have any questions.

Peace,
Robert