Senior Research Associate in Religion and Founder/Director of the Institute on the American Dream
Rev. Brock is a recipient of the Penn State Alumni Association's Honorary Alumnus Award, an honor given to individuals who, while not graduates of Penn State, have significantly worked toward bettering the University. In 2000, he founded the Institute on the American Dream at Penn State Behrend, the mission of which is to organize academic and community programs examining the American Dream through literature, sociology, race and economics while trying to establish a vision for the future. In addition, Brock is an advisory board member of CORE, The Susan Hirt Hagen Youth Research Center and co-vice chair and founding board member of the Young People’s Chorus of Erie. CORE and YPC Erie are major outreach initiatives of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Education: Master of Divinity, Harvard University; Master of Letters, Oxford University; Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management, Carnegie Mellon University.
What courses do you teach? Introduction to Islam, Comparative Religion, Religion in America, The American Dream
What is your favorite course to teach? I really like Comparative Religion because it takes in some of the deepest and broadest thoughts and actions over the centuries. It asks profound questions about who we are, what we are here for, and where are we going. With the world blowing up all around us, we need to understand the ideological causes of the battles we are fighting, and ask if we are doing the right thing. Do we understand Islam enough? Are we aware that China has two major religions that affect the way they see the business world? Can we relate to India in their manifold forms of awareness? Can we, in our personal lives, use the remarkable insights of other religions than our own to enhance private and public lives? If so, we are on the right track for a better world.
How would you describe yourself as a teacher? I am gripped by the material for the above reasons, and I have enjoyed teaching students for 50 years.
What do you like best about teaching at Penn State Behrend? In America (as opposed to Britain where I taught for 35 years) we can create our own courses within the broad guidelines of the University rules. We can also give grades that juggle work, exams, class participation, and general demeanor. All these mean a great deal for the future of any student, and it is good to be able to address all these factors in teaching.
What’s your favorite…
Book?The Bible and The Koran
Movie? My Fair Lady
Music/band? Cleveland Orchestra
What are some of your hobbies/pastimes? As a boy growing up in Erie I played gigs for weddings, funerals, dances, etc., and I got to enjoy the Erie ethnic club life – and I still do. I sing in choirs now, the clarinet and sax being in the attic. And we go to a lot of music concerts locally and back in Britain. My wife is a professional musician so that does have an influence, of course.
What advice can you give students to succeed both in college and in life? It is the fortunate person who can link personal goals with universal ideals and make a living at it. I have been able to do that, and that has been one big providential aspect of my life.