I am becoming increasingly concerned with the lack of new evangelical scholarship at Congress. Congress is a wonderful environment for students and other scholars to share their projects with a wider academic community. It is a place where we can discover new resources, establish key connections and get valuable feedback on our projects. What concerns me is that it seems like such events are no longer a priority for students and professors.
On the student side, there is a need for doing our work amongst our peers. Young scholars can benefit not only from the pool of wisdom at Congress, but from the mere fact of presenting their work to academics outside of their own, sometimes isolated, school experience. In fact sometimes such presentations are the only way we can get the critical distance we need to do our work with academic integrity. Students need to be here.
On the professor side, there is an onus to encourage our students to do the things that will help them develop a career. Attending events like Congress is critically important for developing an academic career. In fact as professors we owe it to our students to suggest excellent papers be submitted to student essay contests. We owe it to them to connect them to research partners and acclimatise them to the academic culture in which they aspire to work. Graduate education is not just about thinking skills - it is about preparing the next generation to encourage the development of our disciplines.
How many of you students ever had a prof tell you how important academic societies are?. How many of you didn't even know Congress was on? How many professors encouraged a student to submit an essay to the contest?