Cumberland University

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Fred Heifner

Professor of Anthropology, Philosophy, and Religion

Fred Heifner

Professor of Anthropology, Philosophy, and Religion



B.A., Louisiana College

M.Div., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Th.D., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Middle Tennessee State University, post-graduate study in Anthropology



Dr. Heifner has taught at Cumberland University since 1996. He is the former dean of the CU School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Prior to that, he was employed at the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville, Tennessee for twenty-two years, serving as editor, coordinating editor and senior manager of children's curriculum materials development. Before his editorial career, he served as senior minister in several churches in Louisiana and Alabama. He served for twenty-five years as distance-learning instructor with the Seminary Extension Department of the Southern Baptist Convention.


Teaching Areas

Primary teaching responsibilities include courses in the American Indian, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnology, Archaeology, Southeastern Indian Culture, Religion in Traditional Societies, Psychology and Religion, Introduction to Philosophy, and an on-site course in New Mexico each summer focusing on Pueblo Indian Culture. In addition, Dr. Heifner teaches two graduate-level seminars, in Ethics and one in Community Service Organizations. In addition to teaching accountabilities, Dr. Heifer serves as program director for Interdisciplinary studies.


Experiential Learning

Dr. Heifner is a strong advocate for experiential learning outside the classroom. He is researching ways to expand this in the areas of anthropology, philosophy, and religion. Current and on-going experiences include the on-site, two-week New Mexico study in Pueblo Culture that Dr. Heifner added to the curriculum, a course in traditional religion that includes an extended weekend in New Orleans, pow wow attendance as a part of courses on the American Indian, and site visits relating to various indigenous cultures in Tennessee and surrounding states. He also is a participant in experiential activities provided through the Learning and Career Commons program.



Current research is focused on principle concepts of southern culture as expressed in the Americana music of Kate Campbell. In addition to being a music composer and lyricist, Campbell is a theologian, ethicist, and cultural historian. Her music succinctly and emotionally captures southern culture, themes, and attitudes. This research will result in a book on southern culture viewed through the genre of Americana music. Dr. Heifner is also researching possibilities for expanding experiential learning outside the classroom. He is helping develop an elective course in anthropology to be taught at Friendship Christian School, Lebanon, Tennessee, promoting interest at the high school level in the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, and cultural history.



Dr. Heifner served for twenty years as one of the children's consultants to the National Council of Churches, helping develop the annual Uniform Series curriculum outlines used by denominations in the United States and abroad. He served for ten years as the children's curriculum representative to the Armed Services Chaplain's Committee for developing curriculum materials for use with the armed services of the United States. During President Jimmy Carter's administration, he served on the President's Commission on the Year of the Child. He has also guided several students in a practicum experience developing curriculum materials for the National Park Service. He has recently served as a consultant to the Buchanan Log House project in Donelson, Tennessee. Currently he serves as consultant to the Forest Hills, Tennessee mayor's office on Indian site land Preservation. He continues to serve as the small college representative for evaluating federal grant proposals for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.



A prolific writer, Dr. Heifner has developed and published church curriculum materials for the Southern Baptist Convention, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). In addition to numerous articles and units of study in church school settings, Dr. Heifner has written several children's books, a book on church history, and co-authored a textbook on children's educational methodologies. He has also written a number of articles for educational and administrative journals.