The AppTV show, “Religion in Life,” hosted by Dr. Ozzie Ostwalt, professor of philosophy and religion and interim director of Appalachian Studies, has received a second recognition from the Religion Communicators Council (RCC). The 2021 Wilbur Award recognizes excellence in the communication of religious issues, values and themes in public secular media. Ostwalt was awarded for his interview with Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners Magazine.
“Religion in Life” airs weekly on AppTV, Appalachian’s student-staffed television channel housed in the Department of Communication, and explores how faith and spirituality play an integral part in the world today. The show is a collaborative effort between the Department of Communication in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Philosophy and Religion in the College of Arts and Sciences.
On the show, Ostwalt engages in discussion with panelists ranging from professors, local religious leaders and spiritually-engaged community members about topics and issues surrounding religion, ethics and philosophy. The show is currently in its 13th season since debuting in May 2015, and has recorded and aired over 120 programs hosted by Ostwalt.
The interview featuring Jim Wallis (season 11, episode 2) focused on his latest book, “Christ in Crisis.” Ostwalt explained that the book challenges Christians to reclaim the spiritual and moral foundations of Jesus's message and ministry. “He believes to do so will have profound implications for restoring social justice, reconciliation and peace in the world,” said Ostwalt.
Wallis founded Sojourners, a community and magazine, dedicated to advocating for social and economic justice in the world, in 1971. He is a New York Times bestselling author and served on President Obama's White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He has also taught faith and public life courses at Harvard and Georgetown University.
“Thank you to Rob Gelber at AppTV, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the greater Appalachian State University community for their continued support of ‘Religion in Life,’” said Ostwalt.
Past winners of the Wilbur Award include Face the Nation, 60 Minutes, CBS News Sunday Morning, CBS Evening News, ABC 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Network, Jane Pauley, Morgan Freeman, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and the New York Times.
Even though Ostwalt had no previous experience in front of a camera, he has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the show. Other memorable experiences include interviewing Reverend Jesse Jackson, for which he received his first Wilbur Award in 2019, as well as Elaine Pagels, Dennis Covington and other famous scholars and writers.
“I have appreciated getting to know my colleagues at Appalachian better by reading their work and interviewing them on the program. I have also enjoyed working with several first-rate student producers,” said Ostwalt.
“Religion in Life” is available on SkyBest channel 20 or 1020, Spectrum channel 198 and on AppTV campus channel 23-3. The episode of Ostwalt’s interview with Wallis, as well as previous episodes of “Religion in Life,” may be viewed online.
About the Religion Communicators Council
The Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an association of communications professionals who work for and with a diverse group of faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, advertising and development. RCC members promote excellence in the communication of faith and values in the public arena and encourage understanding among religious and faith groups. Learn more at https://www.religioncommunicators.org.
About the Department of Philosophy and Religion
The Department of Philosophy and Religion invites students to explore the world, examine beliefs, understand a diversity of worldviews, and challenge the ideas and values that instruct our lives. The department offers a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies, as well as a minor in both of these areas. Learn more at https://philrel.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Communication
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University focuses on preparing students to succeed in the varied fields within the communication industry. The department offers five majors – advertising, communication studies, electronic media/broadcasting, journalism and public relations – and a minor in communication studies. Graduates work in a wide range of positions in media, corporate, agency, government and nonprofit organizations. Learn more at https://communication.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
By Sophia Woodall
March 31, 2021