Brian A. Williams
Dr. Brian A. Williams is Dean of the Templeton Honors College, Associate Professor of Ethics & Liberal Studies, and Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities. Before coming to Eastern, he was Lecturer in Theology and Christian Ethics at the University of Oxford and Director of Oxford Conversations, a collection of curated video interviews with leading Christian academics and scholars at Oxford.
He holds an MPhil and DPhil in Christian Ethics from the University of Oxford (UK), where he was a Clarendon Scholar; an MA and ThM in Systematic and Historical Theology from Regent College (Vancouver, Canada); and a BA in Biblical Studies from Ozark Christian College (Joplin, MO).
His current research examines the tradition of Didascalic Christian Humanism, focusing on the works of Hugh of St. Victor, Philip Melanchthon, and John Henry Newman. Dr. Williams’ broader academic interests include virtue ethics, Christian and Muslim political thought, Karl Barth’s theology and politics, classical education, and Dante Alighieri’s Commedia. He is the author of The Potter’s Rib: The History, Theology, and Practice of Mentoring for Pastoral Formation (Regent College Publishing); co-editor of Everyday Ethics: Moral Theology and the Practices of Ordinary Life (Georgetown University Press); and General Editor of Principia: A Journal of Classical Education.
Dr. Williams is also a National Alcuin Fellow and a Research Fellow with the Institute of Classical Education.
He is married to Kim Williams and has three children: Ilia, Brecon, and Maeve.
- M.Phil and D.Phil., University of Oxford: Christian Ethics
- M.A. and Th.M., Regent College: Systematic and Historical Theology
- B.A., Ozark Christian College: Biblical Studies
HONR 101 - The Good Life (3 credits)
“What does it mean to live well?” is one of the most basic and enduring human questions, perennially asked by people who care about their well-being or that of their neighbors. “The Good Life” is a foundational course in the Honors College focused on Christian ethics and character formation, taken in the first semester of a student’s first year. It considers the moral practices, virtues, vices, knowledge, and loves that help and hinder individual human flourishing, examining these ideas through the writings of select pagan and Christian poets, novelists, philosophers, and theologians, including Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, C. S. Lewis, and Graham Greene.
HONR 480 - Senior Capstone: The Ordinary Life (2 credits)
The Templeton core curriculum has been designed to nurture in students the cultivation of a rich, integrative, and coherent worldview—a worldview devoid of the common artificial divisions between academic pursuits, spiritual formation, cultural appreciation, and community life. Senior Capstone: The Ordinary Life is designed to recover the richness and coherence of an integrative humanistic, Christian worldview. Designed for fourth-year students preparing for graduation, "The Ordinary Life" extends the conversation begun in the freshman course “The Good Life” about a life well-lived and offers students the opportunity to consider the ordinary aspects that will constitute their ordinary lives to come. Using readings from the classical to the contemporary eras, the course will cover the life of the mind, work, money, home, art, family, friends, church, and place. Moral concepts that frame the course include the Aristotelian ideas of intellectual and moral virtue; the Augustinian concept of rightly ordered loves; and the Thomistic idea of intrinsically good activities.
Classical Pedegogy II: Mastering the Craft of Classical Teaching
Teaching is an art, also known as a craft or a techné. The goal of this course is to move teachers toward mastering the craft of classical teaching. The end of a traditional craft is a well-made object—a table, cabinet, or home. The end of the craft of teaching is more than a well-formed lesson or course, but a well-formed student who has cultivated his or her knowledge, skills, virtues, and loves. Because of this, teachers are like artisans who practice a “stochastic art” or an ars auxilians, similar to doctors who nurture bodies to heal themselves and farmers who help soil grow crops. In these art forms, mastery of the craft does not guarantee success because of the variables that remain outside the artisan’s control. Even so, doctors, farmers, and teachers must know their crafts as well as they can in order to attend to each body, field, or student before them. In this course, we will consider how teaching is a craft, examine basic principles and goals of teaching, reflect on the contemporary culture in which we practice our craft, and explore a set of pedagogical practices from the classical liberal arts tradition.