The 2007 SBL and AAR Annual Meeting Programme Handbook has just arrived in the mail today. Had a good time browsing through all the different and interesting programme units and meeting abstracts. Not to mention the showcase of the latest publications by various academic publishers. Flipping through the programme book makes me really wish I could make it to SBL Annual Meeting in San Diego this year.
Sometimes, this is the slight disadvantage of teaching in a seminary in the Two-Thirds world where tight operating budget would mean that it is almost impossible to sponsor a faculty member travelling to conferences in the Western world. Like in this instance, the cost for attending SBL Annual Meeting would be prohibitive.
I wish there could be greater awareness among churches of the importance of such conferences not only for faculty members but also for research students. While I was a doctoral student at the University of Wales, the Department of Theology and Religious Studies awarded me with very generous grant that included travelling and accommodation expenses that made it possible for me to read my papers at the SBL International Meeting held in Singapore and Edinburgh in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The opportunities to present aspects of my research have provided me not only invaluable exposure but also constructive feedback and encouragement from senior scholars for my work. The tremendous help that I received from reading the papers helped me further sharpened my argument in my thesis. I hope that our current research students in STM would also have this kind of opportunity and exposure that would help them not only in their research but also their professional career development in the future.