News and Blog

Refugees and the Reformation w/ Dr. Hans Leaman – Episode 007

Hans Leaman
AcademicsHistorySattler College Podcast

Refugees and the Reformation w/ Dr. Hans Leaman – Episode 007

Lawyer and history professor? Hans Leaman shares his unexpected journey to Yale University, where he trained to be both a lawyer and a historian. During that time, he researched in Germany and provided attorney services pro bono for refugees in Washington, D.C. He and President Johnson discuss the best ways to welcome and help refugees, especially as the church. Now, as Sattler’s Associate Professor of History (among other roles), he shares his passion for studying humanities and tells President Johnson how he chooses course material and topics for his classes.

Hans Leaman, JD, PhD received his A.B. from Princeton University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. from Yale University’s History Department and Renaissance Studies Program. He is the Academic Dean and Associate Professor of History at Sattler College.

Learn more about studying Biblical and Religious Studies at Sattler College.

Don’t miss a future episode. Subscribe wherever you get podcasts!

Mentioned in this episode:


0:05 Dr. Leaman’s Background and Interests
9:27 From Undergraduate to Graduate Studies
16:46 Refugee Work and Building Friendships
33:29 Engaging With Trauma and Cultural Exchange
38:09 Importance of Humanities Education and Reading
47:55 Refugee Legal Needs and Writing Skills
1:04:32 Entrustment


This transcript has been auto generated and likely contains errors.

Zack Johnson: 0:05

It is November 30th and I’m here with Dr Hans Lehmann. Is it okay if I just call you Hans? It’s okay, certainly. So I usually start by reading a bio and then I ask you if you have anything to add or subtract from what’s written on the bio online, and then we’ll go from there. Sound good? Sure, all right. Hans Lehmann received his AB from Princeton University, jd from Yale Law School and a PhD from Yale University’s History Department and Renaissance Studies Program. He comes most recently from the Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Getting in Germany. Good, where he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Ethics, law and Politics Department. He also taught for two years at Yale University as a postdoctoral associate in the Integrated Humanities, developing Interdisciplinary Courses on Refugee Studies, religion and Human Rights and the History of Educational Thought. Prior to completing his PhD, he practiced law with an international firm in Washington DC. Before I keep going, anything to add or subtract from there.

Hans Leaman: 1:18

Well, I hope there’s nothing to subtract. This is all truthful, but yeah, certainly I could add more about my life before and besides studying, right.

Zack Johnson: 1:29

I’ll read what’s written next, but just quick AB. What does AB from Princeton stand for?

Hans Leaman: 1:34

That’s just the same as BA, but they award it as a Latin degree, so it’s.

Zack Johnson: 1:42

Got it, put it around and JD.

Hans Leaman: 1:45

That stands for Latin II, juris Doctor, so a doctor of law.

Zack Johnson: 1:52

Yeah, we want to lack Latin acronyms. That sounds good and then I’ll keep going here. Hans is especially interested in the role that religion plays in the community, formation and integration of immigrant groups. His exam in courts construal of religious persecution and religious freedom in refugee law and human rights law, and he wrote his dissertation on consolation literature that Reformation era Lutheran and Anabaptist passives wrote to encourage their confessional brethren when they faced exile on account of religious nonconformity. As an attorney he also worked pro bono on behalf of contemporary refugees and asylum seekers in Washington DC and Connecticut. He grew up in Lancaster, county Pennsylvania, and is always grateful to return for the fresh produce, Hemsings and sunsets over the farmland. That resonated with me because my wife is now from Lancaster and I also work with it. Thank you so much for being here, Hans. Thanks for inviting me. Yeah, well, I thought we could just start by me asking you about your life a little bit and how you can probably add before, during and after the bio there. I’d love to hear just where you’re from, some of even why you chose to go to some of the places you went, and how did you land here at Sattler and you’re kind of all over the map. So there’s a lot to talk about Sure sure?

Hans Leaman: 3:16

Yeah, well, I would say that when I ended up focusing in for my studies in college and graduate school had a lot to do with where I did grow up, so in Lancaster, county Pennsylvania. It’s a place that was settled by a lot of folks with Anabaptist background coming there from Switzerland or Germany in the 1700s because William Penn had made Pennsylvania a colony that was going to respect religious freedom for the residents there and then they could practice their faith, which was unpopular in Europe, freely. And many of the my ancestors were many of the Mennonites, or some of them German Reformed, who might have come for other reasons to Pennsylvania, but the Mennonites brought with them a book that told the stories of their martyrs from the early period of the Anabaptist movements, when quite a few went to the stake on account of their nonconformity of their religious beliefs, and they were usually given opportunities to renounce those beliefs but said they were remain true to their faith, their conscience, whether death comes or not. And what’s the name of that? Yeah, that book is called the Martyr’s Mirror or the Bloody Theater of the Defenseless Christians it was the longer title and my parents had a copy of that when I was young in our house and at a very young age I think I was in first grade when I was paging through and it happens to have some illustrations, so I didn’t understand all the text for sure and probably didn’t read a whole lot of it, but I could look at the pictures and they captivated me. I had pictures. It ties the Anabaptist martyrs to the martyrs of the early church, so I had pictures, images of early Christian martyrs and with a backdrop of Rome. But then it also had images of those in 16th century Germany or Switzerland, and so they fascinated me because I saw people filled with conviction or those who were still trying to testify to their faith to the last moments that they could to tell people why they were so convinced of what they see in the scriptures that it’s willing to give up their lives for that sake, for the sake of Christ. So that always stuck with me as an inspiration. When I read Hebrews 11 of the Cloud of Witnesses, I could think of those types of images too, and extends Paul’s concept of the people of God as going from the Old Testament up through then Christian history. And when it came time to figure out what I wanted to study in school, I thought, yeah, I’d like to study especially people like that, who are worth remembering and retelling their stories so they’re not forgotten, but also then to explore the period in which that book was made and to understand the types of people who are trying to compile those stories in their own lifetimes and form a identity for a congregation of believers. So that’s why I focused on the Reformation and have always been interested in how Christians form community and try to hold it together despite all kinds of social pressures from outside that would try to make it seem impractical to hold to tight community such as Christians practice. So, yeah, I’ve always been interested in exploring the dynamics of successful Christian communities, as well as understanding the dynamics that are challenges and having them too, and then for people who don’t know about the martyrs mirror I know our audience.

Zack Johnson: 7:14

Some of them may or may not have run into that. I have a copy and it’s on our bookshelf too. It’s what’s the best way to get your hands on a copy of the martyrs mirror. Is this somewhere online?

Hans Leaman: 7:27

There is a free edition online that’s an English translation and it does include, I think you can click on each of the illustrations too, but it is still published, I believe, by Harold Press, maybe.

Zack Johnson: 7:42

And from what I understand, somebody’s gonna have to correct me, but the illustrations in the martyrs mirror were done by carving.

Hans Leaman: 7:50

Yeah. Copper plate etchings yeah. So I don’t know how long it takes to make a beautiful etching like that I’ve etched in a long time. But yeah, I believe some of the original copper plates still exist.

Zack Johnson: 8:04

Every time I open it, I love looking through the illustrations. I mean, the content of them is heart-wrenching right. I think they’re worth looking through themselves. And then the one that I bump into most often is the Is Dirk Willems? Is that a martyr’s mirror, or?

Hans Leaman: 8:25

is he’s rescuing a man who’s fallen into a frozen river, Right?

Zack Johnson: 8:29

I think that might be one of the more popular etchings from yeah, probably the most popular. I bumped into it. I was just in a businessman’s office and I was hanging on the wall in there. So tell me, why did you choose Princeton? I’m assuming?

Hans Leaman: 8:49

Well, sadler College didn’t exist. Yeah, besides, right, yeah, it’s a good question, because I have two older siblings who were definitely influential in my life and people I looked up to and tried to follow in their path. Often they both went to Christian colleges, to Messiah College in particular, and Pennsylvania, which was just about an hour from our home. So, yeah, to a school where there had been plenty of people that they also knew, friends people. A good number would always go from my high school there. So, yeah, it would have been a natural path for me to follow. My brother by that point had gone on from Messiah College to law school and he loved those years of law school and met a lot of interesting people. And he encouraged me when I was a senior to apply to at least one school where the odds of getting in, getting admitted are small and see what happens. And the school that he got a really good impression of from some of the friends he had in law school was Princeton. He knew a couple who had gone there and they seemed to say that they loved their college experience more than many other students they got to know who were at schools that also had a reputation to be especially challenging and that also happened to be a school that’s not too far from home as well that was only two hours from home. So I applied to Princeton and so just thought give it a shot. But also applied to Messiah and other schools that I thought were more likely but that they have early decision as a possibility for the admissions. So yeah, technically, if you’re admitted under that, then you’re expected to come. You’re kind of obligating yourself to come, and I had applied to Princeton first, then through that program, and didn’t expect to get in. Little did I know about the process but I thought, yeah, maybe it’ll boost my chances in the regular admissions season. I didn’t know at that point that if you’re rejected for early decision, you’re probably rejected for the regular too. But yeah, I got an acceptance letter, I think the day before my birthday, remember. So yeah. So then I had to go to my parents and say I think I might have just obligated us to maybe go to Princeton. Then my dad asked how much is this going to cost? But no, my parents were very supportive and they made it possible to attend.

Zack Johnson: 11:35

And then the hop from Princeton to Yale. Did you do anything in between those two, or was it direct?

Hans Leaman: 11:47

Yeah, no, I went straight from graduating in the spring to starting graduate school the next fall. Yeah, so it serves that I was kind of, by that point, really excited about studying history and yeah, I do have really great professors in college to thank for that. I had one advisor my junior year named Peter Brown, who studies a lot of early church history. He wrote a wonderful biography of Augustine that’s just a delight to read. And then I had another advisor named Anthony Grafton from my senior project, my senior thesis, and so they were both a very helpful one, helping me prepare for applications straight away and do many people do JD and PhD?

Zack Johnson: 12:34

Were those simultaneous or it’s not a common combination? So I’d love to hear about why you chose those two.

Hans Leaman: 12:44

Right. So when I was deciding to apply to history grad schools, the other option was to apply to law schools. One reason my brother really loved it and loved the profession of law once he was practicing and I was always interested, especially in as far as subject matters, especially political philosophy and the history of ideas, and I thought, well, yeah, I don’t know if I should, maybe you know if law school would be the better place to study than history grad school. But I decided by senior year that now would I, would I really love. My first love is history and yeah, I think I would like to teach it to. But after two years of being in my history program I did recognize that there are a lot of really talented students who are graduating with history PhDs and there are more of them than there are open history positions to teach at colleges. So PhD students need to have some sort of backup plan if they can’t find a teaching job right away. So yeah, I thought on the practical side I should have a plan B, but also to fuse it with my history studies. I also came back to my strong interest in political philosophy and I was also doing a project for one of my classes that brought me into legal history and I was really enjoying that. So I thought, well, maybe law school will be a good fusion of my pairing that with my PhD. It’ll actually be something that prepares me well to teach on a broader spectrum of subjects. So I did go into practice after law school, for a number of reasons. One, just to see what the profession is like, of course. But I still always thought of myself as probably enjoying teaching the most. And yeah, after a couple of years of practice, which I did immensely enjoy, had a wonderful law firm to practice at, I did decide, at the same time as deciding to get married to a current PhD student, that would be a good transition point to head back and finish the dissertation. And yeah, I kind of put my eggs in the history basket.

Zack Johnson: 15:05

How long was it the PhD? I’m just curious.

Hans Leaman: 15:09

So studying European history involves learning languages. So a typical I think an ideal path would typically be seven years. It took me eight to do my the history PhD side of things.

Zack Johnson: 15:25

Is that eight years of grueling work, or is it sort of elongated? I’m just curious how, what life looks like during those years.

Hans Leaman: 15:35

Most PhD programs, at least in the humanities, they start with two years of coursework, so you’re taking classes like you would in college. Then your third year, you study for what they call comprehensive exams. So you read a lot for a school year and then at the end of that school year then you come before a panel of professors who will ask you questions about what you read.

Zack Johnson: 15:59

Like literally reading books, not the.

Hans Leaman: 16:01

There’s no really important books in your field, so getting a sense of what the literature is in your field. So for me, of course, then I was reading all the regardless, the most important scholarly works on the Reformation, from the 20th century and early 21st century and the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and I had covered another field of Renaissance arts and architecture, so things that would all help to be able to, you know, be able to respond to students’ questions. So when the time comes, when the student asks you, you know, for a good reading list, when they’re trying to write a paper that you’d have, you know, a good store of in your memory, of classic works to recommend to students.

Zack Johnson: 16:46

Okay, I’ll take, I’ll ask a little, gonna take a little bit of a turn here. I know a lot of people, a lot of Christians in particular, interested in refugee work, work with asylum seekers, and it feels like a met, a really big world right now. Would you mind just talking a little bit about your interest in that field and what you did in your work as an attorney, and then maybe even some any advice to your average, your average person that’s interested in those, those, those issues and how, what you would recommend them reading or preparing for or just positioning themselves in general to help out?

Hans Leaman: 17:37

Yeah, well, I mean, we have the the good fortune to be living in a country that is a destination for many migrants. So the world is, you know, coming to us from from many different backgrounds, cultural and religious backgrounds. So it’s a wonderful opportunity for for ministry and to helping people to feel a sense of home when they come to a new land. So having many, many refugees another immigrant say that the the biggest source of relief for them or a source of encouragement, hope for the future when they’re in a new land, is when they feel like they’ve finally made a friend of, of somebody who’s a native of that new country, that they have a have, somebody that they could, you know, call up or visit at their home and experience, you know, hospitality, and that they wouldn’t feel like they’re being treated as as a stranger, or rather as a friend. So, yeah, to have Christians who are simply willing to seek out and interact and treat as colleagues and friends newcomers is makes a huge difference in their lives. So, you know, people don’t have to think about it necessarily as serving as providing some sort of material aid. I mean, those things are all helpful, but ultimately, yeah, friendship is usually what people say that they are they are most eagerly seeking. So that’s something that we can all do. For sure, there are particular legal needs that refugees often do need once they arrive. So people who are designated as refugees and arrive at the US as refugees usually have some sort of advanced legal work that’s been done for them and that they went through the process of being interviewed intensively by State Department officials to verify, you know, their backgrounds and their qualifications under the international law of definition of a refugee and the United States has chosen them as privileged few out of the many people who would love to get that status and be reset with the United States. They’re being, you know, they’re the ones who have been chosen to come. But still, once they arrive, it’s a pretty short clock in which they receive benefits from the government. They need to find a job within six months and start being able to support themselves. And, of course, to find a job in the United States is always complicated by matters of transportation. Right, we don’t have great transportation, probably transportation like in Europe, where you might live somewhere and be able to get across town easily, you know, by trains, tram cars or buses. So one of the prime ways that people could also help refugees in that first struggle to find a job that will work for their family is to help provide transportation. Is that like People do that as drivers Just drivers For them right? Because usually they can’t? Many people coming from developing countries haven’t had the experience of ever driving before. They didn’t take driving lessons. So that’s something that they’ll do eventually in the US typically, but it takes time. It takes more time than when they need to find a job themselves.

Zack Johnson: 21:03

Are there organizations that facilitate those partnerships that you might point people to? I know it might be.

Hans Leaman: 21:10

Right? So certainly so, when the way the US handles their refugee resettlement work, is they? There are a number of different organizations that are privately run, but they receive contracts from the US government to help resettle them, and so there’ll be organizations like ChurchWorld Service or the International Refugee Committee, and they will have staff and local communities who meet them when they arrive, certainly, and then work with other organizations to find housing for them, and churches will sponsor a family and find an apartment before they arrive that will work for the size of the family. And yeah, then there’s refugee resettlement agencies, there’s voluntary agencies. They try to coordinate people who will help volunteer to drive the folks to work and then just be resource people, for Also, plenty of medical appointments are necessary so they can be drivers to those appointments that just guide them through all the different institutions that seem for voting to newcomers. So, of course, navigating our medical system is confounding to people Donting. So yeah.

Zack Johnson: 22:32

I’m gonna ask a little bit more of a Maybe not a controversial question, but I hope I’ll just get your thoughts on it. So in the Christian world you mentioned, one of the greatest things is developing a friendship with someone. I love that answer. Do you have any advice? On some of the circles I hang out in, there’s sort of an evangelistic pressure that is attached to the friendship and there’s sort of like a hey, ultimately you wanna befriend someone so that you can present a gospel message at some point in time. Is that? Do you think that’s manipulative? Is it okay to think about that? Any guiding principles that you might have heard about just how to think about that? As a Christian who loves to talk about Christ and his ways versus trying, what are your true motivations? Is it friendship or is it evangelism? Is it okay to have dual motivations? I mean there’s not a simple solution to that, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Hans Leaman: 23:40

Yeah, well, I think we could make a distinction between our motivations and our understanding of the other person’s situation, and I think that would be a good way to navigate the question. So we can’t deny what we are motivated by and to be honest about our sense of personhood and what inspires us to act. We should include that we are motivated by the gospel as Christians, but there are appropriate times to share matters of religion with other people and inappropriate times, I think, because religion doesn’t involve just a cerebral confession of faith. It also involves a sense of community, and we want to be able to talk about how, when we share our faith, how it makes a difference in how we live out our lives, that we have a relationship with God that we’ve gained by placing faith and Christ’s redemption of us. But it also has a horizontal dimension too, that we share it with other people and that it draws us into community of investment with other people who believe likewise, and that we want to encourage their faith and discipleship too. So inviting somebody into that relationship with God is also we have to be aware of what it means culturally for them and the community that they would be surrounded by too. It means, I think it would be to invite somebody into that in a moment when they are especially vulnerable and at a loss of the community that they have treasured in their lives so far and that helped to form them and gave them a sense of identity, to seize upon a moment that they’re especially vulnerable and feeling a loss of that when they’ve migrated from their home culture to an American one. I think that would not be the right timing to present the full gospel message. But we live out the gospel through our love of neighbor.

Zack Johnson: 26:21

So if you’re driving someone to work, don’t give them the gospel presentation If they don’t take it close to door on them. I’m just kidding.

Hans Leaman: 26:30

Certainly, there are plenty of people who migrate out of discontentment with their current situation too. Some people might have become refugees on account of their nonconformity, that they’ve maybe fled their family circumstance because they want to be, they’re curious about a new faith and maybe they are curious about Christianity, and so there might be instances when you, as a driver, then encounter you’re talking and they, a recently migrated person, will ask questions about what motivates you. Then, of course, that would be appropriate, shows their curiosity. But, yeah, I would say that it’s something that we would get a sense of when is a good opportunity only after we’ve established a sufficiently deep relationship with the other person. So, yeah, so I think the friendship would need to come first.

Zack Johnson: 27:23

Yeah, I actually really. That was really helpful. And do you have any other any other thoughts on an appropriate versus inappropriate circumstances? I know any other analogies or examples that come to your mind. I’m just curious.

Hans Leaman: 27:40

If not, I think that Well, it’s always a golden rule always ask us to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, right? So I always I feel empathetic with people who, who. So studies often show that immigrants actually often come back to a greater appreciation of their faith once they are in a new culture, right? So, and I think that makes sense when I think about myself, when I have lived outside of my home community, for me, I’ve usually been in Europe where the population is, at large, not as not participating in church life as much as those around me in the United States are. That, yeah, I sense that and feel, you know, that I’m in a minority, right, so I can identify with somebody who has, who might be coming from a cultural background or from a faith that’s different than what’s predominant, than the Christianity that’s predominant in the United States. Right, and so I can, from my experience being abroad, that I kind of know what they they might be going through recognizing. Okay, I’m a minority. Now, and when I’ve been in Europe, it’s very refreshing for me, devotionally, and that it does cause me to be more contemplative. Yeah, I’m not. As typically, as you know, I don’t have as many people to talk with. You know, I don’t have as many friends there as I do here. So yeah, then I have more time to engage in devotional practices and many people might very well be doing that with their, their faith. That’s what Muslim person or Hindu person they might be appreciating more and more. You know in now that they’re a minority in America appreciating more about their faith and reflecting more upon that. So if we we can kind of expect that they might be going through that greater and greater appreciation of their faith, it might be interesting as a conversation to talk about. You know what has been formative for us? When have we also come to a greater appreciation of our faith, of Christianity? What moments did we feel like it wasn’t as guiding us as intently day to day? And then when did we come back to make it more of a guide for us day to day? And that might be cause for them to examine, you know, how they’re relating to their faith at the moment and admire something about your faith.

Zack Johnson: 30:28

Right, I want to ask one more question, then we’ll go on to another one. But what in your mind? This is more of a practical question, but in order to set yourself up for some of these meaningful conversations, my guess is there’s like some sort of you don’t just happen to have that conversation with somebody in the first encounter you have with them. And so what are some simple like cross-cultural bridges that allow for cross-cultural friendships? I mean, the obvious ones that come to my mind are languages, and being able to communicate in mother tongues is important. But then there’s hospitality hospitality tricks and tips. Do you have anything that you found in your own life that sort of helps bridge some of the cultural gaps that might exist, that you kind of can find common ground in?

Hans Leaman: 31:27

Yeah, well, certainly, people are really appreciative when you show an interest in their culture, right, and the history of the people that they’re coming from, the country that they’re coming from. So this is actually a point, a motivating point for me to study and teach history, and that I hope that most of our students, as a Sattler, come away with a sense of confidence that when they meet somebody for a different culture, that they have an idea of how they could relate to them, they have a broad enough knowledge of different cultures, that they have a few conversational items that they could talk about, that they would you know a leader in the person’s home country and in this history, that you could say something about them. And people will typically be very impressed, right, they don’t expect Americans to know much about history.

Zack Johnson: 32:20

I think a capital city can go a long way yeah.

Hans Leaman: 32:23

But yeah, so just showing, doing a little enough study to show that you understand some of the big social changes that their home country went through. Of course, to understand the dynamics that might have caused them to have left their home country, of course, would be especially appreciated, especially when you’re dealing with refugees. Many have gone through traumatic circumstances that they usually when they’re identified as refugees and resettled in the United States. They have spent a good number of years in a refugee camp already. So they fled their home region, found safety at a UN administered refugee camp and then had a long period of waiting there. Right, sometimes, you know, the camps are not incredibly desirable places to live long term. So they fled something, you know, that compelled them to leave and had there for sure to seek safety, so they were fleeing violence. But then the refugee camps can also be very difficult places where there sometimes is violence. You know, when you gather a lot of people who have experienced traumatic circumstances and they get frustrated with just being stuck in one location for a while, yeah, there can be a lot of difficulties that they’ve gone through recently, so they might not want to talk about that Like they’re happy to. You know, put that behind them for a while. Eventually, maybe after years, they wouldn’t want to tell their story right, but they might love to talk more about, you know, what are the underlying political circumstances that led to the, the, the strife that they ended up fleeing from, or what are some of the solutions they would have in mind. What would they love to see change in their home country in order to restore peace to their land, make it possible for them to go back, right? So, yeah, so I think people appreciate that type of engagement. So that takes a little work there, probably the work you might say, or reading, but, yeah, on a more impromptu basis, yeah, certainly, people love to talk about their food. So hospitality and gives you that opportunity, you know you might serve what. You know how to cook, right, but you can talk about you know, then, traditions, things that you associate with your foods when you’re, when you’re hosting somebody, and then ask them about data, the types of foods that they might associate with various traditions, and then that conversation would lead to you know one of the main holidays or festivals that have given you a sense of, you know, family and community, and then it can lead from from from that, to learning more about, indeed, their family members, some of which might not be with them right anymore, or, or, yeah, what they, what they appreciated about their, their home communities, and what they’re, what they’re experiencing, that that’s different here in the US, right then, once you hear what they’re, what they know is different, or what they’re struggling with, then you have a better sense of how you can can be of assistance.

Zack Johnson: 35:20

Well, I guess that presents a really compelling reason to study history, to be able to connect with, with people from different cultures. And I guess this will lead me into just talking about you. You’ve said you enjoy teaching and you enjoy the classroom. I’d love to hear about what are some of the classes that you have taught in the past, each now, and is there one that you’re has your heart or that you’re more passionate about that others than any? Any former funk, any capacity?

Hans Leaman: 35:57

Well, I have been the, the main faculty member who crafted the curriculum for our three course sequence of humanities, classes that take students from ancient Greece to the cusp of the 20th century, just reading great texts that have been especially influential in Western civilization. Now, so we don’t spend time reading history books about ancient Greece, ancient Rome, about the Middle Ages, renaissance and Reformation, but we just simply read the writings of authors who have written some of the texts that made the that had the most influence in their day or have had the most influence over over time, over centuries. And, of course, love engaging with those texts because they they pose timeless questions, so ones that have been studied at universities for centuries, of course, and ones that still present questions that, yeah, we all I think all college students come, come into school you know grappling with, and usually we don’t have satisfactory answers that we can come to within our class time. But they provide issues that students can know that they can continue to grapple with and start filling in, you know holes that they. They sense from those classes, as they take more and more classes in their in their upper classman years at the college, that they have a good number of reference points. Right, they can start to fit in. When they read a 20th century theologian, they can say, oh, okay, I can see where he’s influenced by these reformers. Or I can see where he’s going back to some something that we saw in early church theologians or medieval theologians and trying to revive something that they appreciated about church life in the past. Or, yeah, I can see where this person is. Even the 20th century is kind of reviving the stoicism. Or or, yes, yeah, other ancient sets of value systems.

Zack Johnson: 38:06

So I wanted to link this. I think there’s a humanities reading list on our website that goes I think it’s probably pretty, pretty fresh, and it has a list of some of the works that people go through in. That is that the three core series and when I I feel like the list is pretty long. Do students make their way through all of these books here while they’re here, or is that excerpts of them?

Hans Leaman: 38:43

Yes, All those authors on the page they can see at the Satellar Humanity page are ones that we read. Not all of them do we read the entire works. Many of them we have to be content with with excerpts. But we do read usually lengthy excerpts that are at least 25 to 50 pages, so we get a good sense of the substance of the author’s argument.

Zack Johnson: 39:12

And so is there a. There’s a long list here so I can’t go through all of them, but is there a particular work on this list that students tend to kind of gravitate more like light up and engage with more than others? Some of them I know are important but thick to work through. I had to work through the acidities in my undergrad and things like, and it’s some of the texts are harder to engage with. But maybe I’m just asking where do you on this list, where would you start if you are a certain audience member not engaged in the humanities? That’s a hard question.

Hans Leaman: 39:47

Students really enjoy our first reading, although I don’t know if that’s where I would say guide people to immediately, but we start out the course on the ancient world reading the Odyssey by Homer, so one of the. We only have time for one of the two great epics by Homer, and so I chose Odyssey because it’s a story of homecoming and I think it resonates with college students’ experiences, you know, being away from home. So story of homecoming for Odysseus. But it’s also a story of coming into, growing into one’s identity and having appreciation of their family inheritance. For Odysseus’s son, who goes out in search of information about where his father has been, after he hasn’t returned home from the treasure more after 20 years. So that’s Telemachus. So I think college students can see themselves through Telemachus’ journey of self-discovery as they go away from home, but then also start to appreciate, you know, what they desire for flourishing home life too that Odysseus is longing for in the meantime. So yeah, so students really enjoy. They usually say I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected.

Zack Johnson: 41:02

Sure Instagram. I get a fat check. No, sorry.

Hans Leaman: 41:10

And then certainly that has to do with it is a great tale. I mean, it wouldn’t have lasted. It was recopied. We have more copies from the ancient world of the Odyssey than any other text, as I understand. So it was popular back then that people you know invested in the handwritten recopying of it and yeah, so we have more manuscripts of it than other texts. But yeah, it’s resonated down through the centuries too and many Christians have found ways to treat some of the stories in it as good illustrations of Christian fortitude as well. And if the Odyssey certainly has character traits that would not be part of the same Christian ethical paradigm.

Zack Johnson: 41:53

So you don’t have to sell me on this, hans, but can you try to make the case to why so? This is part of our core. Every single student is going through these humanities classes. Why should every student go through these, whether you’re biology, business, computer science, history, biblical and religious studies? What’s the idea behind everyone taking these and reading these and yes.

Hans Leaman: 42:21

Well, I think of it as the syllabus for these three courses, as providing a basis for cultural reference points that students will as they go forward in life. When they’re reading an op-ed in a newspaper or magazine articles that they will be able to fit in with the author of that article is saying with a sense of comparison to what some of the mainstream’s main philosophies that have been out there since initiation times, they’ll be able to fit them in and compare them well, but also simply be able to know what many words that the authors are using, what they mean. There are all kinds of characters from literature that authors will simply throw out and they expect an educated populace to know what that’s referring to. That’s happened because ever since the renaissance there’s been a canon of great literature that people look back to and said these are great texts and that an educated person would have some familiarity with them. They continue to be taught at universities. There’s a lot of assumptions that writers make about the general American audience that they would know the reference points from the texts that we’re reading.

Zack Johnson: 43:52

And then one of the. I’ll try to sell Sattler here a little bit more when I’m talking to students about why Sattler versus other schools. We only have five majors and so a lot of students want to specialize in something that we might not offer and I often talk about hey, you could have the opportunity to choose one of our five majors and then go specialize later in a graduate level. Would you say that that’s decent advice? Given our liberal arts approach to education, I know it’s kind of a hard one.

Hans Leaman: 44:29

I’ve seen more and more studies come out in the past number of years looking at successful leaders in American life, so looking at CEOs or people who have distinguished themselves in the sciences ultimately or, yeah, leaders in public life. And they keep finding out that many of them had studied something quite broad at the college level and even if they went into the sciences later on, many actually had started in a humanities field. And it’s surprising but, yeah, especially in the business field that you might have plenty of business majors at the middle management level, but that there’s something about those who are promoted into leadership positions that they have some sort of emotional quotients, of ability to relate to other people, to be empathetic and in meetings that might come from their study of great literature and thinking about why people make decisions that they do in their life, to think empathetically about them. That feels like history introduced to students to start that kind of skill set. So, yeah, so I think of these humanities classes as having a place in the core to help create well-rounded students in general. So even if we do want them to graduate with, if they’re a computer science major, that they do have a skill set that is appreciated by companies that need computer science experts, that they will fulfill those expectations, that they will be useful for their future employers but that they will still have the emotional skill sets that come from studying other fields as well, and vice versa. That we have a couple of classes that are required of humanities students, that they will practice quantitative skills and that they will have be well-rounded enough to be able to think critically about statistics that they might be reading in newspapers or magazine articles, that they would be alert to ways that statistics can mislead right and that they can do some hard math or have sufficient knowledge of cell biology to sort through the incredible amount of medical claims and studies that are marketed these days.

Zack Johnson: 47:07

Yeah, and I wanted to. What you were just talking about reminds me of an article you sent me about the benefits of having the same teachers who are with students over multiple years. It’s sort of a tangent. So there was an article.

Hans Leaman: 47:22

I think it was in the New York Times.

Zack Johnson: 47:23

You sent me about this topic and it’s something that I didn’t have it undergrad I only ever had. I had a couple teachers repeated, but it was a very odd thing because there’s a big institution, so sometimes you have students they’re freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. I think that’s right and can you tell me about some of the benefits there that you might see or that other people are writing about now as well?

Hans Leaman: 47:55

Yes, so yeah, the op-ed that you’re referring to, that was written by Adam Grant, an professor at the University of Pennsylvania who’s just a very creative guy. He comes up with a lot of good studies to test out that are mainly interested in our educational development. They usually have some sort of relationship to what would end up being effective education. Thank you, one of the things that I that resonated when I read that article is that I at Seller I’ve had the privilege to be able to walk with students from freshman year to senior year and so was with them when they were younger students and just learning more advanced writing skills and having to write longer form essays than asked of them in high school, as we do At the college level. So I’m able to see, you know, what some of their inclinations are in writing and you know, give them initial advice and then to be able to see if they’re implementing it, not just in that first course. But then I’m able to. You know I can, I can see kind of writing quirks, you might say that fit. You know certain students personalities or and just kind of train be alert to that. You know I can expect to see some of them, but I can also start to see more conformity to the expectations of an academic essay with time, and that’s something that’s, yeah, one semester’s worth of advice and monitoring wouldn’t wouldn’t go terribly far. So, yeah, by being able to be there and, yeah, you know, know what to expect and then be able to know what advice I’ve already given, we can keep building upon what we had before.

Zack Johnson: 49:56

Yeah, I think it’s a really. I think it’s a really compelling argument and I mean the basic is parent. I think about it in parenting. I can imagine trying to develop my child if I only got to spend three months at a time with that over time and I was thinking about it in terms of parenting. Well, we’re coming up about about on an hour. Is there any other topic or interest that I missed that you’re really passionate about that? You want to? You want to touch on before I ask some of our series of closing questions here?

Hans Leaman: 50:29

Well, I, when you were talking about refugees, I realized that I hadn’t talked about the, the legal needs that I actually that’s where I mainly tried to fill fill a gap for since it was, you know so, a skill set that I, that I that I had developed by going to law school. So that’s something that a lot of refugee resettlement agencies do provide some legal services, and it’s actually not something that you necessarily have to go to law school to be able to do. It is helpful to have gone to study law and to be a licensed lawyer, but there’s, there are various elements of legal work that even somebody with a college degree can engage in. So refugees, often they, when they come, they often still have some family members that are abroad. So one of the first points on their wish list once they have permanent residency in the United States is often to petition for family reunion, a reunification to, to bring some of their family members to, to be with them and live with them too. So, yeah, so there’s there’s legal work in going through the different steps to gain permanent residency and then eventually, with time, citizenship too, but also then family reunification, which is, yeah, the top priority typically for for people to, because they of course want their, want their family to be together. So, yeah, all those types of things are things that you know, somebody who would volunteer for a refugee resettlement agency or work for one as an employee, that they could get certified by the Department of Justice. There’s a Board of Immigration Appeals it’s called that has has different procedures in which they they can certify you. You’ve learned enough in that field to be able to to help fill out the forms for the refugees and then, certainly, when people so, as part of those those applications, they usually do need to rehearse their, their story on account of what, what caused their, their flight from their home country and how they qualify for, for refugee status. So that often also requires help from translators to be able to go through in detail now their story and also their, their, the story of the family members that are still need to come. So so translation capabilities are also of of high, high need and high, high value. So of course, that’s also reason for a Christian to learn modern languages.

Zack Johnson: 53:12

And is that? How long does that certificate? How long does it take to get that certification?

Hans Leaman: 53:19

Oh, I’m not sure. Actually off off hands, no, and what, what?

Zack Johnson: 53:24

where can we, where can people find out more about that? I?

Hans Leaman: 53:27

think the website of the the border immigration appeals would I’m sure would would give details. So that would be under the department of justice.

Zack Johnson: 53:36

And are there any? And if you get connected to a, a refugee resettlement agency, they might have some of those resources. So, yeah, yes, appointing to yeah.

Hans Leaman: 53:50

So I’ve been through that process, right, and there’s, there’s a website called refworld that has a great database for all things related to the legal needs of of refugees, right? No, that’s, that’s a huge, huge consolidation of of useful sources.

Zack Johnson: 54:07

Right, there might be some competition to the answer to my next question. What’s the most compelling modern language to your to learn as? A native English speaker from the US. Right now, I know what you would say.

Hans Leaman: 54:22

Well, yeah, I mean, I certainly think Spanish is is the most useful not not from personal experience, because I still need to learn it, but yeah, we have the you know, an increasing number of people who, who, whose families, speak Spanish at home. And then, yeah, the the highest number of people who are seeking to find settlements in the US are are the highest proportion there’s in Spanish speakers.

Zack Johnson: 54:50

Graham, what would you say to that question? I’d have to say Dari because that’s what I’m trying to learn.

Hans Leaman: 54:57

Yes, Well, that I mean certainly. Yeah, I wouldn’t deny that. No, it doesn’t deny the other one, the language. They’re all. All we need somebody to to learn all of them.

Zack Johnson: 55:06

And then is there is there any? Are there any resources that you regularly visit that you might share with the audience to say, hey, this, it’s really interesting. Check out this resource. It’s a broad talk category of books, articles, publications, podcasts, anything that you regularly frequent.

Hans Leaman: 55:27

Um I do means in my my history studies or in life in general. Refugee work yeah, it’s hard to hard to narrow things down. Well, I would say I’ve got a couple of different publications that I especially like to look at when I have some free time that do often give me good ideas for teaching and for thinking about, say, the Western canon. So first things is yeah, a great journal that’s yeah, has a strong interest in maintaining what you might say is the prominence of traditional Christian morality in American society and in Western society at large. And so they’re yeah, they’re interested in reflecting upon classic texts and what we can still learn from them. Then there’s Plough Magazine that I really love, that’s produced by the Bruderhoffs. That will bring in plenty more devotional literature that I appreciate and remind me of wonderful texts that I might have read in my younger years but haven’t read recently and give cause to reflect upon them again and cover all kinds of important ethical issues that Christians need to mull over and challenge ourselves with. So those are my two top magazine recommendations. Yeah, so the, I think for my history studies and preparing myself to be a teacher of different historical topics in general, I actually find it very useful to read the most respected history journals of the field. So, yeah, there’s, yeah, great, great number of them, but they would often be, you know, in the databases that our students have access to as college students. But from my field in particular, I focus on the Reformation for my dissertation and my PhD work in general. So the 16th century journal focuses on that period and that’s one I try to keep up with. And then there’s a journal on Reformation Studies that’s published by Germans, so it’s got a German name, but it’s the Archive for Reformation History.

Zack Johnson: 58:07

Is it published in German?

Hans Leaman: 58:10

Some articles are in German, some are in English. Yeah, so those are two important journals that I try to keep up with, but then there’s, yeah, plenty of other journals that are published by the American Historical Association or their magazine that give good tips for just teaching about history, and yeah will also include important, yeah kind of pathbreaking articles in various fields, not just American history.

Zack Johnson: 58:40

Great, and do you give books to people? Yeah, I feel like that’s a classic. Yeah, so what’s one of the books that you have most gifted to people? That’s like the classic, okay this might be surprising.

Hans Leaman: 58:55

I think I do know the book that I probably have bought for people most often and that’s Augustine’s Confession, which is on our syllabus in the humanities classes, and I really think it was life-changing for me to read that book and I think a lot of people have an emotional reaction to reading it, because you have an example of a early Christian theologian who’s quite distant from us, you know, culturally right, he’s got very different circumstances, but there’s so much that still resonates with the longings that we have as we come into our teenage years and then trying to sort out what direction to go in life professionally. And Augustine made those decisions at that stage of life. Apart from Christ was an incorporating advice and wisdom he got from his mother, who was a Christian at that point but then, you know, realized it’s still at a young enough age, as a youngish adult, the wisdom of what his mother taught him and has a homecoming of his own, you might say, and yeah, accepts Christ as his savior and then is readily welcomed into church leadership positions as people notice the talents that he had forged. So it’s a story of redeeming lost time in some ways, but also putting to use the things that we can use, that we learn, you know, even when we might not have had. You know God is our goal for them, but then God got making use of them in the end.

Zack Johnson: 1:00:49

So it’s like the story of my life.

Hans Leaman: 1:00:53

So yeah, I think it’s a great. You know we don’t have. People usually find that reading biographies is the type of history that they find most useful, because you can kind of pattern your life after decisions that you see other people making that you admire. But yeah, then an autobiography takes it to a new level where you can see you know the individual person writing about their own struggles. You know first person, and so when they relate to you emotionally, then it’s not just about you know what can I do to be successful and then emulate somebody in that regard, but what can I do to be a better person and feel like a whole other person as we look at the struggles that other people might have had internally?

Zack Johnson: 1:01:43

Okay, I kind of want to ask what number two would be now. Is there another one that comes to the top of your mind? Because that one can’t quit.

Hans Leaman: 1:02:01

Let’s see, I can’t think of what I’ve given more often, but I really like Tolstoy as an author and so I know I’ve given some books by Tolstoy away, like usually his again more the autobiographical kinds of works, like he’s got one that’s called Confessions about himself, but then there’s some short stories that I think are a little bit closer to home as far as things that he went through, as he also went from kind of having a profligate youth to a man of greater spiritual intensity and discernment.

Zack Johnson: 1:02:40

And then I usually finish out with a question do you have any other passion projects that you’re working on that I missed? It can span from hobbies to other passions that we might not know about.

Hans Leaman: 1:02:56

Well, I have three kids now, so most of my hobbies revolve around their interests. And yeah, surprisingly I wasn’t a very athletic child by any means. My parents made me play Little League Soccer for a year or two, of course you did, but I was more interested in music and always loved being part of choirs or helping to the church life through music. So that’s always been my kind of side, my extracurricular. At any schools I was at that, I was usually part of some sort of a singing group, and yeah, I learned how to play piano at a young age, so I enjoy sitting down and doing that. So my children are learning music. But what they love more to spend their time on is sports, and so they’ve gotten me more into outside, set the books down and kick soccer ball with them, or have them team up against me my hobbies are my children.

Zack Johnson: 1:04:03

I’m listening with that. Well, thanks so much for joining us. I learned a lot and if you want to follow your work, I think you can find Hans’s info on our website and things like that Any other way to sort of find what you’ve done? Or do you have an online presence at all? I don’t know.

Hans Leaman: 1:04:24

No, not much. I’m kind of averse. I understand Social media. I’m the same. I’m in the same place.

Zack Johnson: 1:04:30

And for our audience. Graham, you’ll have to help with any other announcements, but we did announce that Entrustment is live. It went on our website yesterday where every single student gets a fully funded offer to come to Seattle or release her tuition. We’re still charging for room and board and, hans, I want to praise you for that. You actually sent an original email that pointed me in, I think, a really digestible way to go about thinking about that. So thank you for that. That watch is 2024, january 2024. So if you’re interested in coming, to. Seattle or Entrust is in history and the humanities. There’s no better place to study. I’m just kidding. So thank you so much Anything that I missed Anything else, hans, no, all right, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *