I am in the market for theology doctoral students to supervise. As I announced a few weeks back, we’re moving to Wheaton this summer. And one of the things that excites me about this new position is the opportunity to work with doctoral-level theology students. Now I just need to find some!
So I thought I’d put the word out. I’m looking for people interested in starting the doctoral program at Wheaton in Fall 2014. Since you’d need to submit an application this fall, and since Wheaton encourages people to contact prospective supervisors early, now seemed like the right time to let people know that I’m looking for good doctoral students to supervise.
On the off chance that there might be a few people out there who would like to come work with me in an outstanding doctoral program that is fully funded, emphasizes integration across all the biblical-theological disciplines, stays intentionally small so that all students receive excellent supervision, and utilizes a pretty amazing faculty, I thought I’d explain what I’m looking for in prospective students.
What I’m Really Looking For in a Student
Other than meeting the admissions requirements for the program, here are the four key characteristics a doctoral student should have:
1. Desperate to Please
This one is pretty important. I think a good doctoral student should have a deep appreciation for the fact that their supervisor holds their entire academic future in his or her hands. And you don’t want those hands getting angry or frustrated. So a good doctoral student has their supervisor’s best interests in mind, always alert to ways of fostering the supervisor’s well-being and happiness.
Now, as a man of integrity, I don’t want anyone taking this so far as bribery. That would be unethical and offensive. Occasional tokens of appreciation and acts of service, on the other hand, are simply good expressions of Christian charity and heartfelt gratitude. (N.B. I like coffee, books, and Amazon gift cards, my cars almost always need washing, and I’ll probably be in the market for a good babysitter.)
2. Just the Right Amount of Smart
This one’s a little tricky. On the one hand, I want my doctoral students to be smarter than other people’s doctoral students so I can brag about them and make other supervisors feel bad. But, on the other hand, you don’t want a doctoral student who is so smart that they make you look bad. Showing up your supervisor is a direct violation of the first point and should be avoided at all costs. So you’re aiming for that sweet spot between “smarter than the other doctoral students” and “not as smart as your supervisor.” That’s the stuff.
3. A Good Sense of Humor
I like to have a good time, so I’d prefer doctoral students who can relax, enjoy themselves, and laugh at my jokes. And that last point is important. A “good” sense of humor means that you have to think I’m funny. Or, more accurately, you have to make me believe that you think I’m funny. I’m not saying that you need to be humorous. That would run the risk of you being someone that people will like more than me. That’s not as bad as being smarter than me, but it’s close. So stay away from that one too.
4. Something that Stands Out
Just in case I get more than a couple of applications, you’ll want to have something that really makes you stand out from the crowd. A 3-bedroom family cabin next to a beautiful lake, for example. Or maybe season tickets for the Chicago Bears. (I’m not a Bears fan personally, but I wouldn’t object to taking in a few games.) Something like that. Get creative.
Breadth, Depth, and the Church
More seriously, I’m interested in working with students who want to draw on a broad range of biblical/theological disciplines (e.g. NT, OT, church history, and systematic theology), bring that into dialog with other contemporary voices (e.g. science, philosophy, and culture), to address important issues for the life, ministry, and well-being of the Church. That combination of integrative breadth and theological depth with a focus on the needs of the Church is what I enjoy most.
In addition to the admissions requirements and the key qualifications listed above, I should probably mention the research areas that I’m interested in.
- Theological Anthropology. Here I’m particularly interested in the relationship between Christology and anthropology, the image of God, the body/soul relationship, human sexuality, and free will.
- Contemporary Christology. Although I’m open to a variety of topics in Christology, my main interests are in the incarnation and the humanity of Christ.
- Philosophical Theology. I enjoy exploring philosophy (particularly metaphysics) as a resource for systematic theology.
- Global and Contextual Theology. Here I’m open to proposals related to the nature of culture, the impact of cultural context on theology, the significance of popular culture for contemporary theology, and particular expressions of contextual theology (esp. U.S. Hispanic theology).
- The Theology of Karl Barth. I’m interested in all aspects of Barth’s theology, but my personal research has focused primarily on his theological anthropology, Christology, and theological methodology.
If Wheaton’s doctoral program sounds interesting but your research interests don’t match mine, make sure you check out the other doctoral supervisors.
If any of this sounds interesting, check out the web page for the doctoral program. And don’t hesitate to email me (use the email button at the top of the page) if you have any questions for me as a prospective supervisor. Although I’m newbie and may have to plead ignorance to some of your questions, I’ll be happy to do what I can to help.