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Ott honored for research that ‘inspires his teaching’

Barry McNamara
04/27/2018
Associate Professor Daniel Ott, right, receives the Hatch Award for Distinguished Scholarship from Dean David Timmerman at the College's Honors Convocation April 24.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – For Monmouth College professor Daniel Ott, “scholarship is the life-breath of teaching.”

Ott, a professor of philosophy and religious studies, received the College’s Hatch Award for Distinguished Scholarship at its Honors Convocation, held April 24.

“While Professor Ott is very involved in activities and intellectual debates in his field, his research directly feeds into and inspires his teaching,” wrote his Hatch Award nominator. “One example of many – his research on non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. continues to be foundational to the design and content of the College’s Peace, Ethics and Social Justice minor.”

Ott agreed with that assessment, saying that the line between scholarship and teaching “should be blurry.”

“Scholarship is the life-breath of teaching,” he said. “I was never taught how to teach. I was taught how to think and engage in inquiry. Of course, any inquiry may need to begin with mastering some basic concepts or skills, but ultimately teaching is scholarship; it is drawing students into a scholarly investigation. So when I’m at my best, the lines between my teaching and scholarship should be blurry. Teaching should flow into scholarship and scholarship into teaching.”

Since joining the College’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in 2011, Ott co-authored a book with his colleague, Hannah Schell, titled Christian Thought in America: A Brief History. He has also published five peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter.

Ott’s most recent article, “Nonviolence and the Nightmare: King and Black Self-Defense,” was published in the American Journal of Theology and Philosophy. Another, “In einem Augenblick: Christian naturalism, death, and Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem,” appeared last summer in Theology Today.

Ott said the publication of his work began around the time he came to Monmouth, in part because his first teaching position afforded him no time for scholarship.

“While teaching is still the sine qua non at Monmouth, scholarship is better supported here,” he said. “I’m also very grateful to colleagues both at Monmouth and at other institutions who have given me opportunities and encouraged my work. I’m especially thankful to Hannah Schell for inviting me to write Christian Thought in America with her. I’m also deeply grateful for all my colleagues at the Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought. That community really serves as the incubator for most of my thought and work.”

That scholarship will flow into Ott’s teaching next spring, when he plans to use Christian Thought in America as one of the texts in an upper-level seminar on “Christian Theology in the U.S.”

In addition to his published book and articles, Ott has presented his work at more than a dozen conferences since joining Monmouth’s faculty. He was the co-guest editor of a special issue on “Faith and Solidarity” in the American Journal of Theology and Philosophy in 2016. He routinely writes book reviews and serves as a reviewer for several journals in his field.

Funded by the late 1957 Monmouth graduate W. Jerome Hatch, the Hatch Awards were established in 2004 to recognize outstanding work by Monmouth faculty in the areas of teaching and service, in addition to scholarship.