Bobbi (Barbara A.B.) Patterson

Ombudsperson Candidate


Bobbi (Barbara A.B.) Patterson
Professor of Pedagogy, Religion Department and Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University

The focus of Bobbi Patterson’s scholarship changed over her career. Her early work engaged in feminist theory, women’s embodiment and body practices, and Christian spiritual traditions, She became increasingly interested in the environments of human and more-than-human interactions and thriving. Her studies in Religion and Ecology meant increased graduate training and writing in these areas as well as work with the Environmental Sciences Department and Office of Sustainability at Emory. This focus broadened to include study of lived religion and place involving Christian and Buddhist contemplative practices. Her recent book, Building Resilience Through Contemplative Practice: A Field Manual for Helping Professionals and Volunteers, is for a public audience. 

Nationally recognized for her scholarship in pedagogy, specifically community-engaged approaches, she now uses more contemplative pedagogies in her classes. She presents and leads workshops on effective teaching and learning, including pedagogies and assessment strategies emphasizing ethical decision-making, place, and civic engagement. 

Bobbi's B.A. is from Smith College. Her Masters of Divinity degree is from Harvard Divinity School, and her Ph.D. is from the Institute of Liberal Arts, an Interdisciplinary Studies Ph.D. from Emory University.

Candidate Statement

When asked to serve on the AAR’s Task Force on Professional Conduct, I took seriously the opportunity to learn more about what our members needed and expected from one another as professionals in meetings, subcommittees and other forms of AAR business and professional life. While on the Task Force, I recognized the critical role of an Ombudsperson for any investigation of conduct to proceed fairly and seriously. I am willing to serve in that role to provide clear communication as investigative, adjudicatory, and other processes unfold.

Having served in a number of roles in the AAR from co-chairing a Program Unit, to serving as a Unit reviewer, I have experienced our organization’s complexities and functions. Chairing the Sustainability Task Force for almost seven years and completing our report and recommendations to the Board, including a co-authored article in JAAR, I learned more about the administrative policies and procedures of the AAR. This knowledge of the functional elements of our academic society, however, has never eclipsed my commitment to the development and equitable thriving of human relationships among long-time members as well as new members. As the AAR continues to engage new fields in Religious Studies and support and strengthen wider participation from diverse sectors across the globe, we benefit by clarifying and stating our expectations for collegial and responsible actions and relationships. This expansion of our organization intellectually and professionally is our ethical responsibility. Unprofessional conduct, harassment, and discrimination violate the core values and behaviors of our work and life together.

As in my work in university administrative roles at Emory University, I understand that this role mandates confidentiality including the proper handling of communication and information. I also recognize and care about treating those involved with impartiality and civility. In this position, I hope to provide effective facilitation of specific steps outlined in the process and resolution of conduct cases under the American Academy of Religion’s Professional Conduct Policy and Procedures.