CLAS associate professor featured in new Netflix documentary

Associate professor Robert Cargill is a strong believer in public education and ongoing learning opportunities, which is one of the reasons why he’s been sharing his expertise with major networks for more than 20 years.
Monday, February 19, 2024

By Emily Delgado  

For more than two decades, Robert Cargill, Roger A. Hornsby Associate Professor in the Classics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been sharing his expertise in religion and archaeology through documentaries and television shows.  

Most recently, Cargill appeared in “Mysteries of the Faith” on Netflix, which focuses on the stories behind Catholic relics. Cargill said he enjoyed partaking in the project.  Bob Cargill

“‘Mysteries of the Faith’ is streaming now on Netflix, and that was fun because it deals with many relics that people recognize and tells their stories,” Cargill said. 

Due to his extensive experience in sitting for documentaries, Cargill has good relationships with producers and directors.  He has been in documentaries for major networks, including Netflix, CNN, National Geographic, and Discovery.  

“I did a show for CNN called ‘Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury’ that remains incredibly relevant given the present situation between Israel and Hamas,” Cargill said. “I loved filming ‘Finding Jesus’ for CNN because I got to film on location in Israel and work with a director and producer that I still work with today.” 

On top of speaking for documentaries, Cargill has assisted in writing scripts, researching the show, choosing interviewees, and promoting the shows. 

Since Cargill joined the University of Iowa in 2011, his experience teaching made him realize the importance of public scholarship and simplifying complex terms.  

“I decided long ago to focus much of my efforts on public scholarship. But I realized early on that I had a knack for speaking to the public—for breaking down complex ideas and communicating them to a national audience. I did this on blogs, on social media, on YouTube, and on television,” Cargill said.  

Cargill said he has learned a lot while preparing for documentary interviews. He added how it is an opportunity to learn new things relevant to his area of expertise. Bob Cargill

Cargill said his appearances highlight both his research and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  

“Appearing in national TV documentaries helps promote the University of Iowa and CLAS because each time I appear on screen, the University of Iowa brand gets broadcast to the hundreds of thousands of people watching the show,” Cargill said.  

In recent semesters, Cargill has seen enrollment in his classes rise due to his appearances on national television.  

“The University of Iowa has been incredibly supportive of my work in documentaries as well as my public scholarship,” Cargill said. “They understand that public scholarship not only recruits students and markets the university to the public, but it is another way to educate the public directly—a core mission of a public university.” 

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.