Dr. Andrew Martin, interdisciplinary studies professor, is new to the Principia community this year and intends to make it the first of many years teaching here. Hailing from the United Kingdom and father of two boys, he teaches a wide range of subjects from archaeology to religious studies to art history. This semester, his classes include Introduction to Archaeology, Introduction to Western Art: 1400 to Present, and Culture: Prehistoric Religion, which next semester will be substituted for a Native American culture class.
Before coming to Principia, Martin taught a continuing education course at Cambridge University and lectured at Leicester University, along with other continuing education courses in the south of England. As a researcher at Bournemouth University, he started a project to catalogue all the burial mounds in England, which resulted in the cataloguing of 900 burial mounds and photographing of about 3,000 objects.
He created an online database for all the burial mounds he catalogued and the artifacts linked to their respective discovery sites, which is the first time the collection has been linked with its information. “People were able to pull up any artifacts and look up where they were found and what they were related to,” Martin said, “and it certainly helped my research as well.” Professionally, he has given 16 conference papers, and worked in about five museums and on 10 excavations.
In the States, his doctoral studies were on the Hopewell Native American culture that swept across the United States and whose headquarters were in the area of the bluffs along the Mississippi River. In 2013, he published his research in a book titled “Archaeology Beyond Postmodernity,” which largely examined what religion is and proved that modernity has misinterpreted religion, with several case studies in prehistoric religions. This book, which effectively took five years to write after going into so many subjects and involved reading over 300 books, is used in his classes as a textbook and reference tool.
How did his work and research in his field turn into presentations, lectures and discussion-based classes with college students at Principia? In other words, why teach? For Martin, the answer is fairly simple. “I worked at a 9-to-5 job, and I didn’t like it,” he said. For several months, he worked in archives before finding his way back to the world of academia.
“I love imparting knowledge and research and my love for my subjects,” Martin said when asked why he decided to make teaching his profession. “My dad taught here for 10 years … and once you become an academic, you can’t exist anywhere else.” Teaching was a natural consequence of his studies. “I just love my subjects, and when you love your subjects, you have to share that love,” he said.
For Martin, it’s all about the multidisciplinary approach to learning. And in England, where a liberal arts education is thrown over for an intensive study in a single or limited amount of fields, studying archaeology is the closest one can come to studying liberal arts. “In archaeology, you’re reconstructing old worlds, and in order to do that you need to know lots of subjects that make up all the aspects of the world,” he said. “It’s a science and also a study in the humanities.”
From some of the most prestigious colleges across the Atlantic to the small liberal arts campus here in Elsah, Martin took his first teaching position in the United States here at Principia. “This place is moving. It’s incredible. It’s such a difference from 20 years ago, in the faculty, the students, the ideas, the opportunities,” he said. “Everyone knows where they’re going, and what they’re doing.”
Martin believes in imparting the importance of being aware of our assumptions and thinking critically. “I love teaching here because I feel that Principia’s students might benefit from different perspectives,” he said, “especially the notion that our assumptions influence our actions and our ideas. I love imparting the importance of awareness.”
In contrast, Martin felt that not only the students were thrown in at the deep end academically at Cambridge, but also that the faculty operated in a hierarchy, always trampling over each other for academic achievement and security. Here at Prin, Martin feels confident in the support networks, the close contact between faculty and students and the excellence of the faculty as being at the top of their fields without all the attached capitalism.
Students in his classes have found that Martin’s teaching has proven successful in their studies. “He knows his material so well,” said one student, “and I’ve learned a lot from his class.” Another student said, “He’s a very intellectually sound professor with a great passion for what he teaches.”
Junior Denisse Scholz Luzio, a religion major taking Martin’s Prehistoric Religion class, said, “I’m so grateful for this course because I feel like it’s a great basis for understanding, and it is really supplementing my major.”
Martin also has plans for the future of his teaching at Principia. Drawing from themes in his book, which is not only about archaeology, but also about the social sciences and the essence of methodology, theories, anthropology, and sociology, applicable to social sciences, he would love to teach a more general multidisciplinary class looking at metaphysics and ontology.
“I may teach an interdisciplinary topic for an FYE course that would combine metaphysics of subjects and how our assumptions have influenced those disciplines,” he said, “raising awareness about the assumptions people learn and live by. That’s what I love about teaching: getting people to recognize things around them and to notice and understand crazy things happening in the world … not to become desensitized to them.”
In the future, he wants to lead Principia into eventual excavations and some archaeology-focused abroads. Mainly, his long term goal is to teach and continue to learn through being a professor at Principia. “It’s great to be here,” he said. “My dad was here for 10 years, and I’m going to beat him!”
This is Dr. Andrew Martin, who is not only passionate about his research and studies but also about his role in the education at Principia. Meet him, know him, and take his classes, because he’s here to give all he’s learned and researched, spanning the fields of science, anthropology, cultural studies, art, and more, to the Principia community!