Prof. Carol Wickersham
Although Carol is a faculty member in the department of Sociology, she is involved in a lot more than just academics. She’s an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church, the director of Community-Based Learning at Beloit College, the coordinator of the Duffy Community Partnerships, and an outspoken defender of human rights.
“I really think that the rich point of learning is in that interface between text and context, between classroom and beyond the classroom: where you put your learning into practice. I’m pretty passionate about that, and I see providing those opportunities as a calling.”
Carol experiences faith as both an interior call to use the particular gifts she has been given and a call to serve in the world. In other words, helping Beloit students find their own purpose is sacred work for her. This is evident in Carol’s work on campus as director of Community-Based Learning, which promotes academically-grounded community engagement, as well as in her role as coordinator of the Duffy Partnership.
But Carol’s compassion and dedication extend beyond the Beloit College community and even beyond the city of Beloit. As a founding member of No2Torture and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Carol has spearheaded an interfaith effort to end the U.S. use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and other violations of the Bill of Rights in the fight against terrorist groups. “I’m connected with victims [of abuse in U.S. detention] whether I know them or not. That’s where faith comes in: you don’t have to look them in the eye or agree with them, but you can still say, ‘this should not be happening to you.’”
When asked what makes her excited about her faith, she answers with a swift yet pensive response, “It helps things make sense, and it gives life directionality. It’s a life-giving, good news story, and the direction we’re headed is good, not stingy or gloomy.”
So with her roles as pastor, professor, advisor, and activist, what does Carol do to unwind? She says that for her, “There isn’t a bifurcation between what I do for other people and what I do for myself.” Preaching, teaching, campaigning, and helping others find meaning may be some of her passions, but she also enjoys painting, gardening, and spending time at home with her family. Still, one might marvel at how she coordinates all her roles while being so filled with hope, focused on serving others, and eloquent in the cause of human rights. “I may be tired, but I’m never bored.”