Harvey J. Sindima, professor of philosophy and religion, has been selected as the 2020 recipient of the Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching. The award, endowed by Mark Siegel ’73, is named for the late Jerry Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion emeritus.
“The Balmuth Award was created to recognize those teacher-scholars who practice Colgate’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education at the highest level,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey E. Hucks ’87, MA’90. “These are scholars who influence the lives of generations of students — who stand out in the memory of both current undergraduates and alumni as both purveyors of knowledge and sources of wisdom.”
Sindima received his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and is the author of 14 books, including Classical Theories in African Religion; The Gospel According to the Marginalized; Religious and Political Ethics in Africa; and Drums of Redemption: An Introduction to African Christianity. His research and scholarship reflect his areas of expertise in African philosophy and religions, philosophical hermeneutics, ethics, theology, and African Christianity.
Since 1989, Sindima has contributed more than a dozen courses to the Colgate curriculum, including African Traditional Religion, African American Religious Experience, African Philosophy, and Hermeneutics: Text and Interpretation. He has also offered thematic courses on religion and capitalism; religion and the Enlightenment; religion, war, peace, and reconciliation; and Core 151: Legacies of the Ancient World.
“Dr. Sindima taught me how to dissect texts — to reach beyond their most immediate meanings and to locate them in wider intellectual lineages,” one former student wrote in a nomination letter. “He helped me to understand what theory, method, and methodology actually mean for the study of religion and demanded nothing less than excellent written summaries, syntheses, analyses, and comparisons of the materials we were studying.”
Another former student wrote, “Through his demanding and loving pedagogical style, Prof. Sindima forced me to expand my mind and horizons, to think critically, and to introspect. These skills and lessons have served me well throughout my life.”
To know a subject deeply and to know oneself more fully — these are the gifts that are given by legendary teachers like Sindima and the reasons why he now enters the list of Balmuth Award winners.