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Principia College Professors Prepare for Sabbatical

Left to right: Dr. Heather Martin, Dr. Nick Johnson, Prof. Sara Wienecke, and Prof. Joan Wesman.

As fall approaches, a select few professors are preparing—not just for the classroom—but for a sabbatical. This year, Dr. Nick Johnson (C'04), Dr. Heather Martin, Joan Wesman, and Sara (McDaniel) Wienecke (C'09) will all dig deeper into their fields of expertise during sabbaticals.

Dr. Johnson, assistant professor of sustainability, has accepted a one-year position as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow for the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. During the year, he will gain policy experience and share his insight and expertise in electricity markets and Regional Transmission Organizations.

Dr. Martin, associate professor of religious studies, will spend the fall semester studying the current influence of apocalypticism at the intersection of religion and politics in the United States in order to inform future conference papers and articles. “Examining the systems that create and call for a core acceptance of violence—political and otherwise—as a religiously legitimate means of addressing grievance,” Martin says, “is essential to beginning to dismantle those systems.”

Professor Joan Wesman in the mass communication department will take the spring semester to research media literacy and podcasting in order to create a college-level curriculum for each topic. Her goal is to design a media literacy course required for all mass communication majors and made available as a general-education course for all students. She plans to create a “Podcasting 2.0” curriculum to further Principia’s offerings in this popular medium.

Professor Wienecke, an assistant professor of English, will begin her sabbatical this spring and continue through fall 2023. Her time will be spent delving deeper into her own fiction and poetry writing and sending it out for publication. Through this process, Wienecke will gain further experience and practical knowledge regarding revision and working with editors, which she can then share with students.

The time spent on these sabbaticals is designed to enrich the Principia community as these professors dig deeper into their studies, put their learning into practice, and return to share the inspiration and experience they will have gained.