Magness, professor in the department of religious studies and full-time archaeologist, has always loved archaeology, but she has recently discovered a fondness for religious studies.
“It is a little weird. I think I’m the only Ph.D. in classical archaeology in North America with a full-time appointment in a department of religious studies,” she said, while laughing. “That’s a little different.”
Magness taught at Tufts University for 10 years before coming to UNC. She was invited to apply for the religious studies job due to her archaeological studies of the time period and her experience working in Israel. She said teaching in a department that differs from her primary focus has broadened her perspective.
“I interact with colleagues who come from their own background which relate, more or less, to religious studies,” she said. “I’ve had to learn a lot along the way in order to teach classes that sort of fit a religious studies context.”
Magness said her colleagues have been a resource for her own research.
She doesn’t just learn from her colleagues, though. Magness said every time she teaches a class she learns something new about the subject, even if she’s taught it before.
“I don’t know that students realize, but professors learn as much from teaching as the students do,” she said. “And sometimes even more.
“Sometimes it comes up as a result of student’s questions. Students will ask you questions and you’ll be like, ‘Well, I’ve never saw it that way’ or ‘I never thought about that’ or ‘I don’t know the answer, let me go home and look it up for you.' ”