“I like to keep philosophy relevant . . . Having been part of the popular music scene and the entertainment industry, I’m now interested in exploring meaningful and measurable human responses to contemporary culture.”
Paul Janz, PhD, Sessional Assistant Professor of Philosophy,
Trinity Western University
Langley, British Columbia—He is well known for music hits such as Amazon Rain, Believe in Me, Every Little Tear, Stand and Rocket to My Heart. But that may not be what Trinity Western University students come to know him for. After 25 years in the music industry, Canadian singer Paul Janz has made the switch from mainstream music to university professor. Having just completed a PhD in philosophical theology at Cambridge University in England, Janz joined Trinity Western’s faculty as a sessional assistant professor of philosophy. He now combines his passion for philosophy with his understanding of pop culture as he challenges students to grapple with philosophical and contemporary ethical issues.
“Even though music has been so much a part of my life, philosophy and theology have always been on my heart,” says Janz. “I’ve been interested in those areas since my teen years.”
After graduating from high school, Janz studied music at the renowned Conservatory of Music in Basel, Switzerland. During this time, he formed the Christian rock band, Deliverance, which achieved a number one hit in Germany, a top five hit in Canada and made the Billboard “Hot 100” in America. In 1981, Janz returned to Canada where he enrolled at Simon Fraser University. “I had two years of philosophy under my belt when the music area opened up for me again,” says Janz of the large recording deal he signed with A & M as a solo artist in 1984.
Ten years, five albums and 19 singles later, he decided to return to philosophy once again. After completing his undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser and masters and doctorate at Cambridge University, Janz decided to stay in the classroom—not as a student or even a music teacher. This time, his love of philosophy and theology won over the music industry.
“I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to pursue theology and philosophy,” says Janz. “And I’m grateful that I can contribute in those areas to students at Trinity Western.”
Though a Juno Award may look out of place on most professors’ shelves, Janz feels his experience in the music industry helps him stay connected with the concerns of students in his classroom. “I like to keep philosophy relevant,” says Janz. “Philosophy, as well as theology should matter to life. Philosophy is centrally about human self-understanding—a way to ask about our place in the world. Having been part of the popular music scene and the entertainment industry, I’m now interested in exploring meaningful and measurable human responses to contemporary culture.”
He believes that being able to relate with his students consists of more than just speaking or even singing the right words. “So much of communication has to do with modeling integrity,” says Janz. “Life and character have to match the words.”
And though he spends most of his days now pouring over papers, lesson plans and philosophical journals, Janz has not completely abandoned the musical realm. “Twenty-five years ago I had a Bechstein grand piano in our living room in Germany. One of these days I want to find another Bechstein grand piano and set it up in our Canadian living room. And who knows? If something compelling comes out of it, maybe I’ll record again,” says Janz. “Right now I’m just enjoying working with Trinity Western’s faculty—and the students are first rate.”
Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling 2,850 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.
Last Updated: 2012-08-21