Clark Calls for Celebration of Curiosity
Mention the word archaeology to Doug Clark, professor of biblical studies, and he instantly lights up. Anyone who knows Clark can tell you about his passion for the subject.
It takes a certain personality to be an archaeologist. Not everyone is willing to sift through dirt and sand in the blistering heat. Not everyone has the discipline to carefully scrape away that sand with a hand trowel.
So what motivates archaeologists? Curiosity. A curiosity about how people in another time and culture lived their daily lives. An eagerness for discovery.
According to Clark, this curiosity is also a fundamental part of Christianity and education. Our business is the quest, he says. We must do everything we can to protect curiosity.
For Clark, one of the highlights of teaching at Walla Walla College has been interacting with the students and exploring with them questions of both academic and spiritual value.
Theres a tremendous, honest spirituality at Walla Walla College, Clark says. He believes teaching should have less to do with giving students ready answers and more to do with examining the questions in an open environment.
This year, Clark was chosen to present the Walla Walla College Distinguished Faculty Lecture. This honor is awarded to a faculty member each year in recognition of his or her outstanding academic scholarship and outstanding service to the college.
Clark addressed this idea of curiosity in the contexts of both archaeology and education in his lecture titled In Celebration of Curiosity: An Rchaeology of Christian Higher Education. Clark described the excitement of new volunteers on an archaeological dig and compared that to the thrill of the intellectual search.
Against a backdrop that included several clay artifacts from Palestine, Clark outlined three Rs that should be applied to everything educators do: responsibility, redemption, and relevance. Citing illustrations from the world of archaeology, Clark urged the audience not to discourage questions from students, but to celebrate curiosity.
Clark attributes his own passion for archaeology to one of his seminary professors. In 1973, Siegfried Horn invited his students to join him on an archaeological dig to Heshbon, Jordana trip that propelled Clark down a new life path.
Horns archaeological legacy, the Madaba Plains Project, put Adventists on the map in scholarly circles. For the past 34 years, teachers, students, and other volunteers from around the world have gathered every other year to continue excavation in the Madaba Plains region of Jordan. Current work includes the reconstruction of a four-room house from approximately 1200 bc.
Clark, currently co-field director of the Tall al-Umayri excavations in Jordan, has worked on the Madaba project since its inception. In addition, he is vice president of the Walla Walla Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America, chair of the committee planning the annual convention of the American Schools of Oriental Research, and member of the editorial board for the Near Eastern Archaeology journal.
His professional highlights include many research grants for archaeological study, numerous publications in books and periodicals, and extensive field experience in Jordan.
Clark graduated from WWC with a bachelors degree in theology and biblical languages in 1970. He earned a master of divinity degree from Andrews University and completed his doctoral degree at Vanderbilt University.
Clark began teaching in the School of Theology in 1987 and served
as the schools dean from 1990 to 1998. His efforts have led to a new
archaeology minor and the addition of an archaeology lab on campus.
When Clark isnt teaching, he loves to travel with his wife, Carmen, especially to the Mediterranean world. Clarks family includes two sons, Bob and Randy. W