|November 5, 2009|
President goes to head of the class: Ainlay teaches a sociology course
President Stephen C. Ainlay teaches a sociology class Tuesday.
President Stephen C. Ainlay left Feigenbaum Hall and took to the classroom on Tuesday to lecture on a topic that first drew him into the field of sociology.
“Religion is something I became fascinated with as a way to explain how people live in the world,” he told a group of 60 students from combined introductory sociology classes of professors David Cotter, Melinda Goldner and Linda Relyea.
A sociologist by training, Ainlay has lectured and written extensively on topics including aging, entrepreneurship, blindness and religion, in particular in the Mennonite community.
Urging students to imagine themselves in the role of stranger and make objective observations, he said, “There isn’t a place in the world that has been occupied by humans where you don’t find the influence of religion.”
President Ainlay speaks with students before class.
He cited a number of examples – including the Parthenon in Athens, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and the white clapboard churches at the center of many New England villages – to illustrate the centrality of religion.
“When you go into any community, you will see a suggestion that religion is important,” he said.
Even at Union, one of the oldest non-denominational colleges in the country, Memorial Chapel was the site of mandatory chapel as recently as the 1960s.