Dr. Paul Martens

November 2009

Faculty Feature

Dr. Paul Martens

Even though Dr. Paul Martens has only been a Baylor Religion professor for three years, his excitement for and dedication to undergraduate scholarship is matchless. Along with his appreciation for his colleagues and the undergraduates here at Baylor, he especially enjoys how Baylor intentionally challenges students to think academically in their everyday activities.

Dr. Martens demonstrates his support for student scholarship at Baylor through activities such as helping with an Engaged Learning Group, giving lectures at the Renaissance Program, reviewing papers for undergraduates in the Religion department, and advising Honors theses. Currently, Dr. Martens is finishing his book, which deals with the theology and ethics of Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and theologian. His other research interests include philosophical theology, pacifism and war, John Howard Yoder, and Christian theology and ethics.

For Dr. Martens, the students' "youthful enthusiasm in discovery" is one of the most exciting things about thesis advising. During his time at Baylor, he has advised half a dozen theses, and he says that his favorite thing about advising theses is witnessing the students' eagerness for their research. For many students, their thesis is the first chance they have to do independent, in-depth research, and Dr. Martens finds their transition from naivety to deeper understanding to be one of the most satisfying aspects of being a thesis advisor.

Tom Millay, Dr. Martens's most recent thesis student, said that his "thankfulness for Dr. Martens is virtually unending." Millay commends Dr. Martens as being "a superb thesis director" who is knowledgeable, dedicated and encouraging. In fact, Millay, who is currently attending graduate school at Duke, has found no one at Duke "who is quite as insightful as Dr. Martens." Additionally, Millay said that Dr. Martens "had a personal commitment to the quality of [his] thesis paper" and always had time to discuss Millay's independent readings.

Although Dr. Martens believes that the integration of his personal research with his thesis advising is very difficult, he encourages overlapping the two. Millay's thesis focuses on the writing of Kierkegaard, which is also one of Dr. Martens' research interests, and Dr. Martens and Millay are presently collaborating on an article that will be submitted for review later in the semester.

Dr. Martens believes that scholarly work and research is important because it helps to "initiate students into scholarly life," gives students a deeper understanding of their research interest, and "opens a world of questions that have been unknown to the student." Dr. Martens encourages students to get involved in serious undergraduate research, and he has three pieces of advice for them. First of all, he suggests that students do not underestimate their basic classes because they are the foundation for everything that they will learn in subsequent semesters. Secondly, he recommends that students find a supportive advisor or faculty member to assist them with their research, and finally, Dr. Martens urges students to pursue an area of study that they love.

Dr. Martens grew up in Canada and studied at Providence College in Manitoba and Regent College in Vancouver. Later, he earned his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and spent another year as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. In addition to finishing his book and partnering with Millay on an article, Dr. Martens is also currently beginning work on an article dealing with war and peace in connection with Yoder's writings.