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Honors Faculty

Engage with Your Professors

The honors faculty is dedicated to your growth as a student and as a person. Our small class sizes make it easy for you to get to know your professors and peers. You’ll have the opportunity and the freedom to ask challenging questions and engage in meaningful discussions, guided by our talented and encouraging faculty.

Honors Institute Faculty

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Honors Institute

Dennis Kinlaw, Director

Associate Professor of English  

I am passionate about exploring how human experience is shaped by and documented within stories across space and time. I believe the stories we read and discuss with one another shape our own story in significant ways. As an Associate Professor of English and member of the Honors Institute at Erskine, I get to examine works of literature alongside students who are actively discerning their own story in light of their learning. Guiding students through this narrative journey—be it through a novel, a poem, or the drama of day-to-day life—is a true joy.

My research focuses on the relationship between literature and religion in modern and contemporary literature and the scientific investigation of narrative engagement as a source of spiritual understanding. When I’m not working through large books with Erskine students, I’m working through children’s books with my daughters Arden and Eleanor.

Dr. Christiane-Marie Abu Sarah, Assistant Professor of History

Christiane-Marie Abu Sarah

Assistant Professor of History

I direct the International Studies program and the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society at Erskine College, and I’m a faculty member in the Department of History and Political Science. Specializing in legal and cultural history, I help students discover Middle Eastern and Asian literature.  

I enjoy the literature of the unexpected: Dantean tours of Buddhist hell, Taoist treatises mocking exams and government bureaucracy, Sanskrit satires like the Samaya Matrika, and medieval Arabic guides like al-Baghdadi’s The Art of Party Crashing and al-Jawbari’s The Book of Charlatans. Through these texts, Iinvite students to grapple with deeper questions of law, ethics, science, and faith.  

Dr. Alessandra Brivio, Assistant Professor of History

Alessandra Brivio

Assistant Professor of History

Socrates believed that the essence of teaching is not found in the mechanical transmission of information but rather in the ability to ask questions that will stimulate others to think. As a history professor in the Honors Institute, I am thrilled to take my students along a journey of intellectual discovery where conversations are at the center of our learning experience.  

I was born and raised in Italy, lived two decades on the sunny shores of the Pacific Ocean, and since 2018 I have called Erskine home. My field of expertise is medieval and early modern European history. I also love to teach Greek and Roman history and the history of medicine and disease. Occasionally, I welcome students into my house to share one of the things that I am very passionate about: Italian culture and cuisine. 

Dr. Noel Brownlee, Professor of Biology and Health Science

Noel Brownlee

Professor of Biology

As a faculty member of the Honors Institute, as well as a practicing physician and medical school faculty member, I am looking forward to working with students to explore relationships between the sciences and humanities from a Christian worldview.  

My areas of interest include pathology, cancer biology, microbiology and infectious disease, biomedical ethics, the history of the sciences and medicine, and topics at the intersection of science, theology, and philosophy relevant to today’s culture. One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis who, in addition to being a scholar of English literature, was one of the most gifted Christian apologists of the twentieth century. As Lewis writes, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  

Dr. Matthew Cawvey, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Matthew Cawvey

Assistant Professor of Political Science

My research in political science focuses on us as citizens. Why do we have the political attitudes that we do? Why do we avoid or engage in political participation? In my political science courses, I integrate learning with the Christian faith in the hope that students will view political philosophy, public policy, and current events in light of the biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Christians have a long history of reflecting on politics and interacting with ancient political thinkers, and I look forward to exploring faith and politics with students in the Honors Institute! 

Two of my favorite verses of Scripture, Philippians 3:10–11 (NIV), remind me to be a lifelong learner who seeks after Christ: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” 

Dr. John Harris, McDonald-Boswell Associate Professor of History

John Harris

McDonald-Boswell Associate Professor of History

As an immigrant from Northern Ireland and a historian, I’ve learned to inhabit far-off worlds. I’m happiest when exploring distant places and the people who lived in them. How did people of the past understand themselves and the world they inhabited? What did they believe in? The best part is bringing students along on the journey.  

In the Honors Institute, I look forward to exploring distant worlds through classic texts and rediscovering their continued relevance for today, especially as it relates to faith. Like many of our Institute faculty, I’m also a social creature and thrive in the exciting community we are building here. 

Dr. David Reiter, Professor of Philosophy

David Reiter

Professor of Philosophy

I have been teaching philosophy now for almost thirty years, and I love teaching students who enjoy reading, thinking, and writing. For me, this is exhilarating! I have a quirky sense of humor which I love to “let out” in the classroom, and most of my students seem to appreciate this.

I have published scholarly articles in epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of religion. Over the past couple of years, I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with a group of scholars who are committed to the church as holding the key solutions to the problems created by the demise of the Western liberal tradition. I love trying to formulate careful and rigorous arguments, so I am excited about sharing this important skill with students in the Honors program! 

Dr. Christine Schott, Associate Professor of English

Christine Schott

Professor of English

I vividly remember my first literature class in college, when the professor looked around the room after we had read The Iliad and said, “So, what did you think?” It was the first time anyone had ever invited me to respond to literature honestly, personally, and emotionally—and the first time anyone had implied that such a response could be valuable. It was the moment that made me an English major 

In all my classes, I hope to introduce students to that same joy of connecting in a meaningful way with people, cultures, and arts of the past. Several of my recent research projects have focused on how we, as readers both in the classroom and in popular culture, continue to make the past relevant to our everyday lives. I think the Honors Institute gives students an unparalleled opportunity to do exactly that, and I look forward to going on that journey with them. 

Dr. Adrian Smith, Associate Professor of Bible and Religion

Adrian Smith

Associate Professor of Bible & Religion

Every good story is a sacrament of the human quest for transcendence. Through stories, we imagine ourselves into the realm depicted in the narrative—an experience of transcendence of oneself and of the ordinary realm. This philosophy crystallizes my research during 20 years as a professor. I started out exploring the intimate connection between sacred stories and human identity. This exploration is mapped out in my book Searching for the Self: Classic Stories, Christian Scripture, and the Quest for Personal Identity (2018).  

More recently, I have begun to explore the extensive literature of the mystical tradition—a neglected thread of the Western tapestry, but one which weaves together the writings of the greatest minds across all the cultural eras. Mysticism, or contemplation of the transcendent, is the thread that binds Plato in Greek antiquity to St. John in the New Testament to St. Augustine at the end of the Roman era to Dante in the late Middle Ages to the Romantic poets of the 18th and 19th centuries. Recovering this ancient wisdom is, I believe, a primary value of the Honors Institute at Erskine College.  

Dr. Briana VanScoy, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Briana Van Scoy

Assistant Professor of Psychology

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Erskine College admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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