The Alumni Public Service Award honors a faculty or staff member whose work has made a significant impact on the Knoxville-area community.
Erin Darby is an associate professor of religious studies, focusing on early Judaism and near eastern archaeology. She co-directs the ‘Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project in Jordan and has received fellowships to work in Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Cyprus. She collaborates on a range of community outreach programs in Tennessee. She worked with community groups to establish Arab Fest, which just celebrated its sixth year of bringing the campus and community together for a multiday educational celebration of the Middle East, and she carries out frequent programs with Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities in the area. Darby serves on the executive committee of the Eastern Tennessee Society of the Archaeological Institute of America and as chair of UT’s Council for Diversity and Interculturalism.
Which organization, department, or person has had the biggest impact on your time at UT?
It is impossible to say which organization at UT has had the largest impact on my time at UT because I have benefited from collaboration with so many different offices. Above all, my home department, religious studies, has been a model workplace environment since I arrived in 2011. My department has a long history of commitment to public engagement, and my colleagues taught me the skills to balance public service with research and teaching. The College of Arts and Sciences has supported these outreach efforts, especially my work with undergraduate research and the annual Arab Fest. My public service has also been heavily impacted by units across campus, including (though not limited to) the programs in Judaic studies and Middle East studies, the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Center for Global Engagement, the Teaching and Learning Innovation Office, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement. Community collaborations have also been an extremely important aspect of my work, including the Knoxville Jewish Alliance, the Arab American Club of Knoxville, and all the vendors, volunteers, and performers from the greater Knoxville community who participate in Arab Fest each year.