Dr. Nathan Howard is pursuing the ultimate continuing education – as a professor of history, in research and other scholarly activities, through interaction with colleagues and via extensive travel.
“Serving as a professor is a lifelong commitment to learning,” said Howard. Howard teaches courses in development of world civilization, ancient Greece and Rome, late antiquity/early medieval history and renaissance/reformation. He also teaches a historical research writing seminar course and supervises two university scholars projects.
Howard is always coming across new ideas and approaches from his students. “I don’t think students here give themselves enough credit for how much influence they can have on us as professors.” He added, “My favorite experiences when teaching in the classroom come when we are discussing an issue or a text and students actively voice their interpretations.”
He also enjoys the members of his department – a diverse group, “which makes us strong,” he added. “Professionally, receiving the support to teach during the year and to do research during the summer is a great part of being a professor at UT Martin. It creates the balance between teaching and scholarship that a professor needs.”
Howard finds it rewarding to work with non-traditional students his age or older, men and women who appreciate the value of education and understand “what a privilege is it to be part of a university community.” He added, “Seeing the sacrifices some of them make to take college classes is a huge encouragement.” He also enjoys the mixture of students from the city and students from small towns.
Travel has been a significant aspect of Howard’s continuing education. His professional and personal travels have led him to England, Ireland, Czech Republic and Greece. He will lead a UT Martin travel-study with a colleague to Turkey and Greece this month and then head to Costa Rica for a mission trip in July. He also travels throughout the U.S.
Howard finds time to pursue his passion as a runner and serves as assistant track and cross country coach. He ran cross country and track in college at Harding University and continued to train with college runners off and on during graduate school at Baylor University and the University of Arkansas, where he earned a doctorate.
He originally asked UT Martin head coach Gordon Sanders if he could train under him and, while training with the runners, gradually took on support responsibilities that evolved into a role as an assistant coach.
“I am still running, and every spring and every fall, my body instinctively knows that it is track or cross country season,” said Howard. “Running is a release. It is not natural to spend all day in an office or classroom. Our bodies were created to be active, and I believe I should respect that design. I still run about 20 miles a week and love the sport as much as ever.”
Howard is an active member of his church, participates in Bible studies, church retreats and mission trips. He enjoys fishing, camping and golfing. He calls himself a “die-hard” Houston Astros and Arkansas Razorbacks fan, since he was a child growing up in Arkansas and then Houston. He enjoys movies, theatre and operas and has eclectic tastes in music.
He fills each day and still has a number of goals he has set for himself. He wants to publish a book on his research, lower his 5K running time, travel to Scandinavia, return to Italy and make a trip west to see Yellowstone Park and other sites in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. He also wants to spend more time reading his Bible and praying. “Sometimes I allow this crucial part of my life to get lost in all of my other reading and activities.”
And, he’ll continue his periodic meetings with a small group of UT Martin professors from various disciplines (they called their group “Hobbits”) to discuss “relevant social issues spanning the realm of economics to religion.” He added “I get my intellectual ‘fix’ from meeting with these dear colleagues.”