Camino as Classroom: Rethinking the Study Abroad of Religion

By Liz Bucar Experiential learning has always been central to the pedagogical identity of my current employer—Northeastern University. We are best known for our robust Co-op program, which lets students apply classroom learning in a work environment, but we also offer global experiential opportunities that allow three thousand of our students go abroad each year. … Continue reading Camino as Classroom: Rethinking the Study Abroad of Religion

A Semester at the Newberry Library

By Meira Z. Kensky One of the coolest and best teaching experiences I’ve had so far was co-directing the Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s Newberry Seminar in the Humanities. Many small liberal arts colleges are members of a consortium, a collection of colleges that pools resources to offer programs to faculty and students. Coe, alongside … Continue reading A Semester at the Newberry Library

Teaching Religion and Sexuality Respectfully: Can We Do Both?

By Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez In my last post, I discussed strategies to facilitate open discussion of religion and sexuality in a diverse classroom. Now I’d like to talk more about the pedagogical challenges of teaching about religion and sexuality. My large-format course, Religion and Human Sexuality: East and West, at Temple University regularly enrolls around … Continue reading Teaching Religion and Sexuality Respectfully: Can We Do Both?

Q: What Are You Doing? A: Modeling the Life of the Mind for College Students.

By Brian Collins After a conversation with a Divinity School colleague, I realized the importance of modeling the life of the mind for my students. But what does that look like? Several years ago at the AAR, I was having a discussion about teaching with my Divinity School comrade Jeffrey Israel. I was probably complaining … Continue reading Q: What Are You Doing? A: Modeling the Life of the Mind for College Students.

The Pervasive Problem of How Much is Too Much, Too Little, and Just Enough

By Illya E. Davis College teaching/instruction, at least when the aspiration is to impart knowledge as well as cultivate an environment conducive to students’ learning and growth, purports to advance the pedagogical virtues of understanding, explanation, interrogation, illumination, etc. So, when I began teaching twenty years ago, my initial quandary was, how much of what … Continue reading The Pervasive Problem of How Much is Too Much, Too Little, and Just Enough

When Map Is Territory: Specialization and Silos in the Transition from PhD Student to Department Member

By Brian Collins When I was a graduate student, I made a lot of assumptions and asked far too few questions, resulting in a badly distorted understanding of academic life. Specifically, I imagined that when I got a job in an academic department (this was my first assumption), my experience would be similar to graduate … Continue reading When Map Is Territory: Specialization and Silos in the Transition from PhD Student to Department Member

I taught Camus’s La Peste last week. Here’s why I won’t again.

By Liz Bucar Last week, I jumped on the band wagon, and I taught Albert Camus’s La Peste (The Plague) in an upper-level undergraduate seminar. I am not sure I will again. I had reason to be pedagogically suspicious of this text even before this semester. The first time I read this novel was as … Continue reading I taught Camus’s La Peste last week. Here’s why I won’t again.

Pedagogical Goals, Institutional Realities, and Me

By Cass Fisher Introduction: This blog post addresses the challenges a freshly minted Ph.D. encountered when teaching in the new institutional setting of a large public “Research One” university. In the essay, I discuss how I made my initial pedagogical decisions and how I have modified those choices in the intervening years.             A year … Continue reading Pedagogical Goals, Institutional Realities, and Me

Decisions, Decisions: Pedagogy and the COVID-19 Crisis

  By Ezekiel Goggin, Skidmore College In the age of COVID-19, the language of crisis abounds: We hear the language of crisis in the media, on our faculty listservs, and in our conversations with students. When we use it, we typically signal a situation of profound turmoil and danger. No doubt such conditions obtain. At … Continue reading Decisions, Decisions: Pedagogy and the COVID-19 Crisis

Teaching with Intimacy: Using Intellectual Closeness to Inspire Transformative Learning

By Emily D. Crews, University of Alabama In my previous posts, I’ve written about two practical tools, storytelling and images, that have enlivened and improved my teaching.  In this post, I want to share an equally effective but somewhat less tangible tool: intimacy.  I’ll go over what I mean when I use the term “intimacy,” … Continue reading Teaching with Intimacy: Using Intellectual Closeness to Inspire Transformative Learning

The Pedagogical Refinement of COVID-19

by Ekaterina Lomperis, George Fox University In the history of Christian thought, suffering has frequently been conceptualized as a process of “refinement.” In particular, suffering “refined” believers and religious communities by (painfully) stripping away the unnecessary as well as by revealing and perfecting the core dimensions of religious practice. I am writing this on the … Continue reading The Pedagogical Refinement of COVID-19

Pedagogical Vulnerability in the Time of COVID-19

By Greg Chatterley, University of Chicago Here we are. In many ways, a first for living generations: a global pandemic that has disrupted the most basic operations of our social orders—or, perhaps, one that has exposed the pre-existing disfunction within our social orders. In other ways, a contemporary variation of recurrent historical events: not the … Continue reading Pedagogical Vulnerability in the Time of COVID-19

Great Expectations: Navigating the Gamut of Student Views on “Religion”

By Ezekiel Goggin, Skidmore College Teachers of religion ought not aspire to be members of a hermeneutical police force. We are best equipped to reach a diverse range of students, not by ordering them to toe a certain line, but by helping them to interrogate that line. Why was it drawn that way? Who drew … Continue reading Great Expectations: Navigating the Gamut of Student Views on “Religion”

The Art of Balancing: Teaching a Mixed-Level Seminary Classroom

By Ekaterina Lomperis, George Fox University Disparate, mixed-level classrooms are composed of students of acutely diverse levels of academic preparedness, background, and knowledge of the subject matter. I was confronted with the challenge of managing such classrooms when I first began teaching at a denominational seminary. I continue to regularly engage such classrooms while teaching … Continue reading The Art of Balancing: Teaching a Mixed-Level Seminary Classroom

All Religion is Local: Familiarizing Religious Concepts as Civic Education

By Greg Chatterley,  University of Chicago Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the most passionate student responses to my course assignments over the years have followed where students found direct and personal connections to people, places and things they know well from their own lives. As a scholar of United States religious history, I have more opportunity … Continue reading All Religion is Local: Familiarizing Religious Concepts as Civic Education

What’s Paul Got to Do with It?: Using Visual Media in the Religious Studies Classroom

By Emily D. Crews, University of Alabama In my last post I wrote about the value of storytelling for Religious Studies classes. In this post I want to share some thoughts on another tool that has been central to my teaching: visual media.  Below I’ll provide some details about visual learning, explain why I think … Continue reading What’s Paul Got to Do with It?: Using Visual Media in the Religious Studies Classroom

Prioritized Reading: On Helping Students Not Read (Correctly)

By Scott Ferguson, University of Chicago So where exactly is the problem with students not doing the reading? I mean that question seriously. Clearly there is some kind of problem: it bottoms out in their not being fully present in class, having to BS their way through assignments, etc.. But articulating why it’s a problem … Continue reading Prioritized Reading: On Helping Students Not Read (Correctly)

It All Started with a Trashcan: The Value of Storytelling for the Religious Studies Classroom

By Emily D. Crews, University of Alabama This story begins with a trashcan.  It was September 1894, and the trashcan in question sat next to a desk at the German embassy in Paris, where it has been rather unwisely filled with discarded classified documents.  (Who thought that was a good idea?)  One evening a member … Continue reading It All Started with a Trashcan: The Value of Storytelling for the Religious Studies Classroom

Cooking with Pedagogy: An Unexpected Lesson in Experimental Teaching

By Greg Chatterley, University of Chicago   A few years back, a good friend and former colleague of mine landed a prestigious internship at the Nordic Food Lab, an experimental test kitchen in Denmark founded by René Redzepi. Those who follow culinary trends may know of Redzepi’s legendary restaurant Noma, which consistently ranks among the … Continue reading Cooking with Pedagogy: An Unexpected Lesson in Experimental Teaching

Lost in Translation?: Reflections on the Move From Graduate Student to Junior Faculty Member

By Ezekiel Goggin, Skidmore College Poring over yellowed manuscripts is not the only sort of translational work early career scholars must do. There is also the question of translating their “grad student skills” into the pedagogical skills necessary for success as a junior faculty member. But there is no simple, one size fits all approach … Continue reading Lost in Translation?: Reflections on the Move From Graduate Student to Junior Faculty Member

Pedagogies of Distance Learning

By Ekaterina Lomperis, George Fox University North American universities increasingly offer distance learning options as part of their undergraduate, master’s, and even doctoral curricula. Distance education may include online courses (taught solely via the Internet), hybrid courses (online courses which involve occasional required face-to-face components), or a combination of the two. Once primarily associated with … Continue reading Pedagogies of Distance Learning

Teach Them Where They’re Not: The Very Idea(s) of General Education

By Scott Ferguson, University of Chicago     All of us almost certainly have taught or will teach a “general” course. Most often, perhaps especially for teachers who take “general education” (students’ studying a diverse variety of subjects) as an ideal, writing out objectives for such a course - deciding what it should do - … Continue reading Teach Them Where They’re Not: The Very Idea(s) of General Education

Ten Things I Learned in My First Year of Full-Time Teaching

By Katharine Mershon, Whitman College   Now that I’m one week out from submitting final grades, I thought I’d do some reflecting on what I learned during my first year of full-time teaching. I teach at a small liberal arts college in eastern Washington State. The students are predominantly white and middle/upper-middle class, coming from … Continue reading Ten Things I Learned in My First Year of Full-Time Teaching

Can we criticize religion in the classroom? (Or steps toward a critical pedagogy of religion)

By Andrew Durdin, Florida State University   For those of us who teach classes in Religious Studies, there is a common, almost “mythical” figure that looms ominously large in our broader pedagogical imaginary: specifically, I refer to the outspoken fundamentalist student. This is the student you get in class from time to time whose unwavering … Continue reading Can we criticize religion in the classroom? (Or steps toward a critical pedagogy of religion)

Moderating Moderately: Helping your students by helping yourself Or Working Smart, Not (too) Hard: Reflections on Moderating Moderately

By Erik Dreff, University of North Carolina Greensboro This past fall semester I taught a Religion and Politics class online to almost 100 students at a state school in the southern US.  Though this was not my first online class, it was my first time having so many students in a single course.  Managing this … Continue reading Moderating Moderately: Helping your students by helping yourself Or Working Smart, Not (too) Hard: Reflections on Moderating Moderately

Teaching the Teachers to Teach

By Andrew Durdin, Florida State University Since joining the faculty of the FSU Department of Religion last fall, I’ve experienced several firsts. These have ranged from novelties such as having my own office and faculty library privileges to more thought provoking experiences like sitting through my first faculty meeting (an eye-opening experience for another time, … Continue reading Teaching the Teachers to Teach

Self-Disclosure and Professorial Performance

By Kristel Clayville I enjoyed and learned from Andrew Durdin’s October 2018 blog post, “Death, Taxes, and the Problem of Religious Self-Disclosure in the Classroom.” I take Andrew to be arguing, in a very nuanced way, for the necessity of establishing trust between professor and students, and I agree with him that doing so is essential … Continue reading Self-Disclosure and Professorial Performance

Probing the Pedagogy of Secondary Source Selection, or Choose Your Own Adventure (in the Gospel of John)

By Jonathan E. Soyars When I was in early elementary school, books in the Choose Your Own Adventure series published by Bantam were all the rage, at least in my rural corner of the universe. I found their invitation to participate in a narrative captivating, and I loved making choices for the protagonist that influenced … Continue reading Probing the Pedagogy of Secondary Source Selection, or Choose Your Own Adventure (in the Gospel of John)

Contra PowerPoint. Or: In Defense of the Analog Option, the Chalkboard.

By Erik Dreff I recently saw a senior academic in my field of Jewish studies (whom I respect very much) declare in a post on a social media platform that PowerPoint was the devil.  My wife, on the other hand, also an academic, in fact also in religious studies (though not Jewish studies), is keen … Continue reading Contra PowerPoint. Or: In Defense of the Analog Option, the Chalkboard.

Death, Taxes, and the Problem of Religious Self-Disclosure in the Classroom

By Andrew Durdin At the time of writing this post, I, like many Americans, have been following the high political theater of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. I’ve experienced a range of emotions as I’ve watched his initial Senate hearing; the unfolding of the subsequent allegations of sexual assault; the clumsy, bombastic, and at times … Continue reading Death, Taxes, and the Problem of Religious Self-Disclosure in the Classroom

Scaling Up

By Mandy Burton, College of Engineering at University of Illinois at Chicago I’ve always liked teaching required classes. It is a genuine preference—a happy accident of temperament rather than a boast about what a superior departmental citizen I am—but also a fortunate one for me, since most of us end up spending a lot of our … Continue reading Scaling Up

The Student’s Voice

By Allison Gray, St. Mary's University Those who attend the upcoming CoT workshop with Prof. Margaret Mitchell will get to experience firsthand her fun and effective prosopon exercise, which invites students to internalize and embody the voices of biblical interpreters throughout history. I’d like to offer some reflections and resources for a complementary invitation we … Continue reading The Student’s Voice

The Other Door

by Emanuelle (Mandy) Burton, College of Engineering at University of Illinois at Chicago In one major respect, I’ve traveled further afield than any of my colleagues on this blog, both past and present. My office at UIC is less than ten miles from Swift Hall, but it is in the computer science department. My purview … Continue reading The Other Door

Communicating about Academic Integrity: Reflections on the Value of Intellectual Production

by Kristen Tobey, John Carroll University The post you’re reading isn’t the post I intended to write. The one I intended to write, scheduled to go live just as I and perhaps many of you return from Boston and this year’s AAR/SBL Annual Meeting, was going to offer some reflections on the pedagogical lessons we … Continue reading Communicating about Academic Integrity: Reflections on the Value of Intellectual Production

How Not to Celebrate the Reformation: The Imperative of Responsible Sensitivity for Theological Education Amidst Religious Complexity and Conflict

by Andrew DeCort, the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology David Daniels's article "Honor the Reformation's African Roots" - the basis of his recent Sightings article - has gone viral as Christians around the world celebrate 500 years since Luther's 95 theses. As my first reflection on "the craft of teaching," this article can serve as a … Continue reading How Not to Celebrate the Reformation: The Imperative of Responsible Sensitivity for Theological Education Amidst Religious Complexity and Conflict

Meet the Bloggers Day 5: Andrew DeCort

Last but not least in its series of blogger introductions, the Craft of Teaching Program is excited to bring you Andrew Decort, lecturer in ethics and theology at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and director of The Institute for Christianity and the Common Good (www.iccgood.org). Read on for his reflections! Craft of Teaching: What was your … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 5: Andrew DeCort