This two-professor teaching style is an expression of these professors' belief in democratic learning versus one person with all the knowledge who is bestowing it to their students. It decentralizes and allows both students and instructors to gather around a subject rather than downloading it into the students as if they were piggy banks, just empty vessels waiting to be filled….
Michael D. Haltenberger has been teaching religion at Hunter College for over ten years. He created and continues to teach the seminar on Religion and Science as well as courses on Religion and Psychology and Religious Experience. At any given moment he may also be working in film, some job at a restaurant, as a marketing director, a therapist, or building websites. He has traveled widely and is an experienced sailor and snowboarder amongst other seemingly pointless obsessions. He is extremely proud to have taught the first Olio.
Michael Prettyman is an artist and scholar of Eastern Religions. He holds a Masters Degree in Theology from the Harvard Divinity School and teaches on the subject of religion and the arts, Asian Religion and philosophy at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. He has been a visual artist for twenty years, with gallery shows in New York City, Hong Kong and Barcelona. He has exhibited paintings, drawings and sculptures at the United Nations General Assembly, The American Museum of Natural History, the Tsvetaeva Museum of Art in Moscow and the National Museum of Art in Almaty, Kazakhstan and has paintings in the permanent collection of each. He has studied the forms of mediation and sacred artmaking in Buddhist and Christian monasteries in Italy, Nepal, India and the United States.
Michael’s scholarly work in comparative religion dovetails with his practice as an artist. He is convinced that the practice of art making is itself a religious activity, as is the viewing of it. He writes, “The sacred, mythological past need not be inaccessible to us- it is at our fingertips because it is within us, and if we can find it we approach our common humanity. It is only through art making I am able understand these realities in a way that has blood and immediacy in it.”