Benson Provides Historical Expertise as Co-Editor for the Spring Issue of Christian Scholar's Review
by Kristina Garvelink (M.S. ’15)
As a historian, Dr. Erik Benson remains attuned to dates and event anniversaries, including recollections about new contributions to knowledge that persist in academic and cultural conversations. With last year being the 25th anniversary of a well-circulated thesis written by Samuel Huntington, Benson collaborated with new and reunited scholars to produce an article series for the spring issue of Christian Scholar's Review.
Huntington's controversial position, as summarized by Benson in an introductory essay for the issue, argued "that the end of the Cold War did not herald the end of history, but rather a new age in which a 'clash of civilizations' would come to define global politics."
Moderating the conversation as a co-editor of the journal's theme issue alongside Dr. Jim Halverson, professor of history at Judson University, Benson assisted in leading efforts to broaden the conversation beyond one academic discipline and include reactions from scholars in emerging fields such as peace studies. He recruited writers, reviewed articles and contributed an essay. As a result, the articles document updated reactions to Huntington's claims, giving a nod to collaborators also named in a related article series published by Fides et Historia in 2004.
Contributing writers included Dr. Robert Joustra, associate professor of politics and international studies at Redeemer University College, and Dr. Deborah Kwak, assistant professor of sociology at Malone University. In addition to Benson, returning professors included Dr. Scott Waalkes, professor of international politics at Malone University; Dr. Gregory Miller, associate provost at Malone University; and Dr. Stephen Hoffmann, emeritus professor of political science at Taylor University.
For Benson, the co-editing process increased his excitement for potential opportunities to write additional essays and present the content at upcoming conferences, giving contributors additional latitude to explore reactions to Huntington's work in the form of a panel discussion.
"Scholarship is about knowledge creation; you're having to develop new ways of knowing the things that you know," Benson said. "A university is supposed to be a place that is generating knowledge. We can say history has never changed, but we've not studied most of history. We've got so many sources, and we're finding new stories every day from the past that help us understand the past better and tell our history better."