Faculty Spotlight: Adjunct Professor Dr. Chris Hedlin, Department of Communication Studies

Dr. Hedlin is a part-time lecturer in the Writing Program and Department of Communication Studies, teaching Media Entrepreneurship. She also works as the faith and religion reporter for the nonprofit media outlet PublicSource, which is based out of Pittsburgh.

What do you love about working at APU? I love the variety of perspectives I get to hear in the classroom. The student body at APU is racially, economically, politically, and religiously diverse. That makes our conversations richer. We learn more when everyone contributes different insights.

What is your favorite memory from your time at APU? I think my favorite memory was the Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration this past December. It was taking place directly outside the room where I taught Writing 1 last semester during our designated class time. The students asked if I'd cancel class so they could attend. At that point, what choice did I have? I thought it might be cheesy, but it was actually lovely. Having started teaching at APU during the pandemic, this was my first official campus event, and I got a clear sense of APU's earnest culture. I'm grateful to my students for encouraging us to go.

Where is your favorite spot on APU’s campus? Why? I like working at the tables outside the Darling Library. I lived in the Midwest before coming to Azusa Pacific University, so getting to work outdoors all year round feels like such a gift. I also enjoy people-watching as students come and go from their classes.

What was your first creative tool? Interesting question! Growing up, my family ran a nonprofit clogging team. (Clogging is an American folk dance that was the forerunner to tap dancing.) I have been clogging since I was 6 years old. I would say that was my first creative outlet.

What do you love about your career outside of APU? I work as the faith and religion reporter at PublicSource, a nonprofit media outlet in Pittsburgh. I'm trained as a religious-literary historian, specializing in how best-selling novels shaped American Protestantism in the late 1800s. I see a lot of connections between my work as a scholar and a journalist, although they might seem dissimilar on the surface. In both cases, I'm writing about how religious faiths respond to moments of upheaval.

What are your ultimate goals when it comes to teaching the next generation? I hope to help students learn to listen closely. Whether we're reading a poem carefully, laying out the multiple sides of a public debate in an argumentative essay, or designing a media project for overlooked audiences, the ultimate goal is the same. We're practicing paying attention. I don't think we can heal divides in our world until we learn to listen closely.

To read more about Dr. Hedlin’s journey at PublicSource, check out her featured profile, “Fellows in Focus: Leading Edge Fellow Chris Hedlin F’21 Shares Experience as Faith & Religion Reporter.” Dr. Hedlin’s most recent journalistic project is "Faith, Race, Place," a collection of 13 stories concerning religion and race in Pittsburgh.

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