Timothy S. Dobe (2005). Associate Professor of Religious Studies. B.A., University of New Hampshire; M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary; Th.D., Harvard Divinity School.
Timothy Dobe joined the Department of Religious Studies upon earning his Th.D. in Comparative Religion from Harvard Divinity School. While teaching the full range of courses in the department, he has worked hard at designing or revitalizing the South Asian and Islamic elements of its curriculum. He takes care in his teaching to integrate theoretical and critical concerns with the specific content of a given course. He makes frequent use of images central to his pedagogy, not only as course content and as methodological training for students learning to “read” images, but also as a tool to stimulate and focus class discussions. His syllabi are structured to keep students’ attention on a course’s overall goals. He has team-taught, twice, an interdisciplinary course on Gandhi with Professor Shuchi Kapila of the English department.
Professor Dobe’s scholarship focuses on the transformation of religious traditions in the global milieu, grounded in studies of colonial South Asia. He has written on the importance of the local context in understanding religion, especially to avoid importing Christian-based categories into the understanding of other religious traditions. His articles are published in the premier peer-reviewed journals in religious studies. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research in India in 2009-10. His first book manuscript is currently under consideration at a major university press. It uses close examination of the careers of two late nineteenth and early twentieth century Indian religious figures, Rama Tirtha and Sundar Singh, to examine how religious traditions and practices emerge, develop, and respond to the challenges of modernity. Reviewers have described him as a pioneer in the study of global religion.
His service to Grinnell College has included membership on the Center for International Studies Advisory Board and on the Cultural Films and Instructional Support Committees. He has helped organize several all-campus concerts and film showings. Professor Dobe has been especially active in building an exchange relationship between Grinnell College and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, where he was among the first to teach as part of the new joint program. Finally, he has also been active in building Middle Eastern Studies at Grinnell.