For his creative, interdisciplinary and unorthodox approach to instruction, Converse College theatre professor Brent Glenn has been honored by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Inc. with its 2009 Excellence in Teaching Award. Each of the 20-member institutions of the SCICU consortium selects one faculty member to receive the award, which includes a professional development stipend for the professor.
Glenn, a native of Murrayville, Georgia, is in his third year as a member of the Converse faculty. Yet, in that short period of time his influence has been felt across the breadth of Converse campus as well as in the Spartanburg community.
“The basis of my teaching philosophy is influenced by my work in the theatre. I believe strongly in the creation of new ideas and the study of the point of connection where seemingly disparate schools of thought intersect,” said Glenn.
An example of Glenn’s imaginative approach to interdisciplinary teaching occurred during the 2008 spring term through a collaboration with Converse biology professor Dr. Neval Erturk in the development of a honors-level course entitled Science Theatre. “The objective of this course is to evaluate how and why science moves forward in the way that it does, as well as how the human element and ethical systems influence scientific advancement,” explained Glenn. “Students adopt the belief systems of multi-dimensional characters, real as well as fictional, and argue various sides of the scientific discussion in a public forum. As we are in the process of teaching the class at this point, it seems that this type of course offers a unique and creative way to evaluate science and open it to the public.”
Further collaboration has included a 2009 study-travel January Term course in which Glenn teamed with Converse philosophy professor Dr. Kevin DeLapp to develop a course which enabled Converse students to tour Eastern Europe to examine the legend of vampires. Glenn has also collaborated with faculty from the Creative Writing Program and the Petrie School of Music.
Within Converse’s Theatre and Dance Department, Glenn has developed courses in the study of Eastern theatre, African-American performance and modern women playwrights. The Anointing of Dracula, a goth-tinged original production of Glenn’s, was presented, and was the largest grossing and most attended Theatre/Converse production in memory during its six-date run in Converse’s Hazel B. Abbott Theatre in October. The production also featured ten percent of Converse’s residential student body involved as either a performer or technician. He was honored by the American College Theatre Foundation with a Special Citation in Direction for the 2007 production of Language of Angels and being invited to direct a production of When the Gods Speak for the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska.
“Brent continues to be a stage director of considerable ability and creativity. We define ourselves under the rubric of educational theatre, thus our various production activities function as our laboratories in which intensive training and instruction takes place,” said John Bald, Chair of Converse’s Theatre and Dance Department. “Brent has the rare gifts of keen insight into textual matters and a sensitivity to performance that elicits and nurtures the creative energies of our students.”
In the Spartanburg community, Glenn has directed and designed for the Spartanburg Repertory Company and Spartanburg Little Theatre, received t