Benjamin Wiker never planned to go into teaching.
“I just knew that I wanted to keep reading the things I really liked as an undergraduate,” he said. “I was enamored by Plato and Aristotle. I was trying to figure out a way to continue to do that so that somebody would pay me. And so, oddly enough, I ended up getting a Ph.D. and, even more oddly, getting a job.”
Wiker, who holds a doctorate in theological ethics, has been teaching at Franciscan University of Steubenville on-and-off since 2000 and joined the faculty full-time in 2014, now holding the positions of professor of political science and director of Human Life Studies. He has taught courses in a variety of subjects, including political science, philosophy, theology, history and Great Books.
“I enjoy all of them, that’s the issue,” joked Wiker. “I’ve always really enjoyed the political philosophy classes,” especially, he said, because the content is both enjoyable and challenging.
Wiker’s work at the university over the past few years has also involved him serving as senior fellow at the Veritas Center for Ethics and Public Life.
“That just involves my writing for public consumption and trying to get issues across so that they can be understood on a more popular but not watered-down level,” he explained.
Wiker is the author of 12 books, some notable titles including “10 Books That Screwed Up the World” and “Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture.”
After Wiker retires at the end of this semester, “(I’m) moving down to Kentucky, and I’ll be teaching in step-down next year, which means you’re teaching half-time,” he said. “So I’ll be doing that online. That may be continued if folks here want to continue it. We’ll just have to see.”
“But basically, it’s just having a wonderful time with my high school sweetheart, who happens to be my wife for the last 38 years,” said Wiker.
“We want to do some traveling. Actually, we don’t travel very far — we just travel to the nearest mountain.”
Stressing the importance of a liberal arts education, Wiker praised the fact that Franciscan is a place where ideas can be freely discussed and where Catholic teaching is not repressed or, in the words of popular culture, “cancelled.”
“You better keep Franciscan University from being literally exterminated by a culture which doesn’t allow what we do here to occur,” Wiker offered as parting advice to students. “I mean, why aren’t we cancelled? It can happen; people think things like that can’t happen.”
“We spend a lot of wonderful time here teaching exactly what we want out of the wonderful resources of orthodoxy. But we’re in a very small percentage of places where that can happen anymore.”
“So don’t take that for granted, at all,” said Wiker. “It needs to be protected by any and all possible moral means.”