College of Arts and Humanities

White selected to lead Clemson’s Department of Philosophy and Religion


Associate Professor Ben White has been tapped to lead Clemson University’s Department of Philosophy and Religion. He has served as director of the department’s religious studies bachelor’s degree program since its inception in 2014.

“Ben White begins his term with tremendous departmental support,” said Nicholas Vazsonyi, founding dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “In many ways, he embodies the ideal combination of qualities. He is an accomplished scholar and beloved teacher, has demonstrated his dedication to service, especially in mentoring students, and comes to the position with a successful track record of building and nurturing the Religious Studies program. I am excited to see how he will take the department to the next level.”

The Department of Philosophy and Religion hosts Bachelor of Arts programs in both disciplines. White noted that the teaching of religion began at Clemson in 1929, with philosophy following two decades later. Over the past decade, enrollment in the department has grown by 61 percent.

The ethos of our department is exactly what it means to be part of a ‘high seminary of learning.’

Ben White, chair, Department of Philosophy and Religion

According to White, the department’s greatest strengths lie in its pedagogical structure, with small class sizes and high engagement for both majors and minors. He highlighted the faculty’s strength in ethics, philosophy of mind, and religion and politics.

“The ‘No. 1 student experience,’ for us, means providing students with what they say makes the difference — close relationships with faculty who give sustained attention to their intellectual work,” he explained.

Growth through relevance

The department’s growth has been bolstered by the innovative addition of the Law, Liberty and Justice concentration for philosophy majors. This year, the department added the philosophy concentration of Medical, Health and Human Values, continuing its focus on aligning its curriculum to relevant applications and strong career outcomes for students.

“Our faculty and students work on practical applications, and many of our alumni are making real-world differences through practicing law and medicine, leading religious communities, and being involved in policy and diplomacy at the national level,” White said.

During his first year as chair, he listed among his priorities elevating the profile of the department, connecting with accomplished alumni and redoubling efforts to build the Grosby Fund, a scholarship fund for religious studies majors in honor of Professor Emeritus Steven Grosby.

Excellence in research

White is a leading scholar of ancient and modern interpretations of the New Testament, the reconstruction of Christian origins, and the development of early Christianities. His research focuses particularly on the influence of Paul the Apostle in Christian theology and discourse. His first book, Remembering Paul: Ancient and Modern Contests over the Image of the Apostle, was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. The book was lauded as “by far the most important book on Paul in some decades” by Catholic Biblical Quarterly, and selected by Christian Century as one of six books to take and read in the New Testament category in 2015. He recently completed a manuscript for his second book, Counting Paul: Scientificity, Fuzzy Math, and Ideology in Pauline Studies, which is slated for publication in 2025 with OUP.

At Clemson, White has earned multiple accolades, including the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities (CAAH) Excellence in Service Award, the John B. and Thelma A. Gentry Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for completion of his second book. He is an active leader in the discipline of religious studies, serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Theological Studies (Oxford University Press) and holding membership in the Society of Biblical Literature, the North American Patristics Society and the European Association of Biblical Studies.

Prior to his arrival at Clemson, White was an assistant professor and program coordinator for religious studies at North Carolina Wesleyan College. He holds a doctorate (Ph.D.) in religious studies from the University of North Carolina, a Master of Theology in New Testament from Duke University, and a Master of Arts in New Testament from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. As an undergraduate student at Campbell University, he was a double major in religion and business administration, and he is proficient in reading German, French, Greek, Hebrew, Coptic and Latin.

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