These lectures will examine the media environment and its role in, and effect on, the modern political process, addressing such issues as managed news, spin and journalistic punditry in light of popular perceptions of bias in the array of media available to Americans today.
Hunter Baker, J.D., Ph.D., is the winner of the 2011 Michael Novak Award conferred by the Acton Institute, which has been rated as one of the top global think tanks. Author of The End of Secularism, Baker serves as associate dean of arts and sciences and associate professor of political science at Union University. He was selected to deliver the endowed Gheens Lectures titled "The System Has a Soul" at Southern Seminary in 2010. Baker is co-founder of The City, a journal of Christian thought and is a contributing editor to Salvo. His work either has appeared or is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Law and Religion, the Journal of Markets & Morality, Touchstone, Themelios, Religion & Liberty, The Regent University Law Review, The American Spectator, and a wide variety of other publications. He is also the author of book chapters in edited volumes from David Dockery, John Mark Reynolds, and Donald Schmeltekopf. He holds the bachelor of science in economics and political science from Florida State University, the master of public administration from the University of Georgia, the doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Houston, and the doctor of philosophy in religion, politics, and society from Baylor University. He served as president of the Florida State University chapter of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship as an undergraduate.
Micah J. Watson is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Politics & Religion at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. He was formerly a William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life at Princeton University, where he also completed his doctoral work. His interests include the intersection of politics and religion, the prospects for a tradition of evangelical political thought, and the thought of John Locke. Before working at Union, he taught for a year for Villanova University's Augustine and Culture Seminar. Originally from the great Golden State of California, he now lives with his wife and five children in Western Tennessee.
Harry Lee Poe serves as Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He has written several books and numerous articles on how the gospel intersects with culture; including Christianity in the Academy, The Gospel and Its Meaning, Christian Witness in a Postmodern World, The Designer Universe and Science and Faith: An Evangelical Dialogue, and See No Evil: The Existence of Sin in an Age of Relativism. Poe also serves as president of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia.
Gregory Alan Thornbury, Ph.D. serves as Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University in Tennessee. A writer and lecturer, he is curious about the intersections between religion, philosophy, and pop culture. He is also the founder of The Aporia Seminar, a discussion group in Nashville, where he has recently delivered talks entitled, "Why Did Elvis Buy His Mother a Cadillac?" and "What Would Nietzsche Say About Your Love Life?"
Gene Fant serves as Union University's Vice President for Academic Administration, but he also is a professional blogger at The Chronicle of Higher Education and First Things, as well as a contributing columnist at the Jackson Sun. In 2010, he published over 105,000 words in books, magazines, journals, and blogs. His topics include religion, politics, public policy, the arts, and family issues. Among his service activities is membership on the advisory board of Media Ethics Magazine.
Todd Starnes is the host of FOX News & Commentary, heard daily on radio stations around the nation. He's often described as a cross between Paul Harvey, Lewis Grizzard and Erma Bombeck. Todd's down-home common-sense approach to life has earned him awards and accolades including an Associated Press Mark Twain Award for Storytelling and a regional Edward R. Murrow Award. He is a frequent guest on Fox & Friends and is a regular panelist on Hannity's Great American Panel. Todd hosts a daily web show on Fox News Live and writes a daily blog read by more than two million people at www.toddstarnes.com. Todd is a frequent speaker at churches and on college campuses. His latest book, Dispatches From Bitter America, was released Feb. 1 by B&H Publishers.
Tom Bohs is editorial page editor and a columnist for The Jackson Sun, a Gannett newspaper. Bohs was born in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and was raised and attended Catholic schools in the Detroit, Mich., area. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a B.S. in psychology and he attended the University of Detroit School of Law for one year. After college, Bohs went into the insurance business in Detroit, spending 25 years in the insurance industry in sales, agency management and corporate management. In 1976, he moved to Dallas, Texas, where he lived for 16 years. Journalism is a second career for Bohs. He moved to Jackson in 1992 with his wife, a Jackson native, and daughter. He joined The Jackson Sun as a local columnist in 1993, and went to work full time at the newspaper early in 1994. He taught developmental writing at Jackson State Community College. He has won a number of awards for his political and social issue commentaries including several Best of Gannett awards as well as recognition from the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors' Association and the Tennessee Press Association.
Sean Evans is associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at Union University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and is in his 12th year of service at Union. A past president of the Tennessee Political Science Association, Dr. Evans studies Congress and elections and is currently on a research leave to write a book on congressional retirement.
Garrett Hubbard is a visual storyteller from Washington, D.C. This takes shape in his work as a Visual Journalist for USA TODAY and the photos he takes of his lovely wife Allison. Together, the Hubbards run Hubbard Productions, a visual storytelling studio that specializes in weddings and corporate stories. Hubbard is so thankful for the trust he receives from those who invite him to tell their stories. Most of his stories have both video and still photographic components. He has learned to balance the two taking into account the neediness of video narrative with the fleeting moments demanded by the still image. Garrett has received numerous national awards from the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism competition as well as an award that took him to the White House where he asked President Barack Obama for a high five. Garrett studied Visual Journalism at Brooks Institute of Photography and is so grateful to his mentors and friends who have invested in his life story. Garrett loves Jesus, his wife, and his neighbors. When he's not working or celebrating life with his bride, Garrett can be found with a huge grin on his face as he's riding his mountain bike in the woods as fast as humanly possible.
Photographer, The Jackson (Tenn.) Sun
Indigenous Outreach International
Aaron Hardin is a photographer based out of Jackson, TN. He serves on the staff of The Jackson Sun and has recently become a volunteer storyteller with Indigenous Outreach International.
Originally with a background in video production and filmmaking, he fell in love with the craft of photography during his senior year at Union University. His passion for traditional documentary photography has greatly affected his style and choice of medium.
"I never thought that God would lead me down this path with a camera in my hand, but here I am," says Hardin. "There is something so beautiful about a subject sharing their lives with you. I've sat and mourned with the downtrodden, and rejoiced with the joyful. We have a great responsibility as historians, artists, prophets and social defenders."
Dr. Tom Cooper, author of "Fast Media/Media Fast," is Professor of Visual and Media Arts at Boston's Emerson College. Before joining the faculty at Emerson, Cooper taught at Harvard University, University of Hawaii, and other leading universities. A former assistant to Marshall McLuhan, he now serves as speechwriter for Jochen Zeitz, CEO of Puma. Cooper is the author or co-author of six previous books and over a hundred academic and professional articles on media ethics and related topics. He has co-produced ethics programs and panels between media professionals and academics, won numerous awards, and has consulted for such groups as the Elders project, which includes Nelson Mandella, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu. In 1986, the Association for Responsible Communication, which Cooper founded, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The same year, he co-founded Media Ethics magazine; he currently serves as its co-Publisher. Cooper holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has appeared on NPR, CBS, NBC, PBS, BBC, CBC and the Discovery Channel, and been quoted or reviewed by such publications as The New Yorker, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and the Christian Science Monitor. He lives in Swampscott, Mass.
Steve Coffman is the executive editor/director of content and audience development for The Jackson Sun. He worked previously as the Sun's managing editor, in editing roles at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, and in reporting and editing roles at The Finger Lakes Times in Geneva, N.Y. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.