2015-16 Craft of Teaching Schedule

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Autumn 2015   

Teaching@Chicago Conference (formerly the Workshop on Teaching in the College)

September 24 - 25, 9 am - 5 pm



The Chicago Center for Teaching's orientation for graduate lecturers and course assistants, formerly known as the Workshop on Teaching in the College, has been renamed the Teaching@Chicago Conference. This year’s program will take place on Thursday, September 24th and Friday, September 25th, and each day will be devoted to a specific group: Thursday to Teaching Assistants and Friday for College Instructors. This program is open to graduate students across all of the divisions who are preparing to teach either in the College or at another University, in the near future or as preparation for a career in academe. This workshop features individual sessions on an array of topics including:

  • Inclusive Teaching

  • Undergraduate Perspectives on What Makes a Good Teacher

  • Effective Grading Strategies

  • Key Challenges in Teaching

  • Mid-Course Adjustments

  • Teaching Your Own Course

  • How to Plan for Conceptual Learning

  • The Roles and Duties of the Course Assistant

See the CCT website for additional information and to register. Attendance at one day of the workshop (either, but we recommend Day 2) is a requirement for Craft of Teaching Certification.

Workshop on Public Speaking [Arts of Teaching]

Friday, October 9, 12:00-2:00, Swift Third Floor Lecture Hall

public-speaking.jpgScientific research, as well as our common experience, indicates that how we communicate often has a much greater impact on audiences than the content of our message.  The skills of public communication are therefore of vital importance to the work of future teachers and scholars.  This interactive workshop will present the fundamental concepts of public speaking and provide practical advice for using our body and voice to communicate information more effectively and to connect with audiences.  Led by Seth Patterson, MFA/MDiv, a professional theater artist and Divinity School alum who has worked with individuals and groups at the Divinity School, Booth School, Social Sciences Division, and GSA.  Participation in this workshop is strongly recommended for students in any area pursuing Craft of Teaching Certification. Coffee and tea will be provided, but feel free to bring your own lunch.

All the World’s a Stage: The Pedagogical Challenge of World Religions

Friday, October 23, 12:00-2:00, Swift 106


For early-career and established faculty alike, a course in "World Religions" or the like can present a substantial pedagogical challenge. Often an inherited course rotating between faculty members, "World Religions" risks becoming a professor's nightmare: it presents to students an opportunity for global exposure to religious ideas, practices, and problems, seeming to be an all-in-one package; yet for the teacher, such a demand for coverage can seem to necessitate either a superhuman level of mastery or a subpar level of depth. Such a course, therefore, requires a different kind of pedagogical hand and a number of tough choices. At this panel workshop, area faculty with experience in the challenges of teaching "World Religions" (and analogous formulations) will help to bring clarity, flexibility, and confidence to a staple course in much of the field of religious studies.


Dov Weiss, Assistant Professor of Religion, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Catherine Benton, Associate Professor of Religion & Asian Studies, Lake Forest College
James Halstead, Associate Professor of Religion, DePaul University

**A collection of relevant syllabi from our panelists is available here. There will be some copies available at the workshop, but to save paper, we recommend downloading in advance.**

Dov Weiss is currently an Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his PhD at the University of Chicago Divinity School as a Martin Meyer Fellow in 2011 and was the Alan M. Stroock Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies in 2012.

Catherine Benton has taught courses in Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese religious traditions, and Islam at Lake Forest College, where she has chaired programs in Islamic World Studies, Asian Studies, and Religion.  She has worked in India over the last thirty years studying religious rituals in communities in Maharashtra, directing study abroad programs, and, earlier in her career, working as a field officer for UNICEF in south India.  

James Halstead, OSA, has taught “Religious Worlds in Comparative Perspective” in the liberals studies program and “Religious Worlds and Ethical Perspectives” in DePaul’s Honors Program for 28 years. For twelve of those years he was also chair of the Department for Religious Studies, observing others teach the introductory course in religion.

Dean's Autumn Craft of Teaching Seminar with Trina Jones

Friday, November 6, 12:00-2:00, Swift Hall Common Room


Trina Janiec Jones (Wofford College) had her dissertation colloquium in Swift Hall on September 12th, 2001.  The events of the previous day not only impacted her colloquium, but eventually, also took her teaching career and scholarly interests in directions she never imagined while sitting in Regenstein working her way through Sanskrit declensions. Trained in Buddhist philosophy at the Divinity School, she soon found that every job for which she interviewed required that she create a course on Islam. Since her graduation from the Divinity School, she has taught at two liberal arts colleges, teaching courses that have required her to become more of a generalist than she anticipated.  This seminar will focus on an undergraduate course on interfaith engagement and religious pluralism that she recently co-taught, and will use its syllabus as an entry point into broader questions related to the role of the teacher in the undergraduate religious studies classroom.  How, for example, does one negotiate students’ desires to explore “religion” or “spirituality” with one’s own pedagogical desire to foster an atmosphere of academic rigor and critical thinking? What, ultimately, should the goals of an undergraduate religious studies course be?

In advance of the workshop, please review Prof. Jones’ syllabus and her rubric for pluralism and worldview engagement (developed with the Interfaith Youth Core). Also recommended is this selection from Teaching and Learning in College Introductory Courses, by Barbara Walvoord, discussing learning goals in relation to Prof. Jones' own classes. For those who are interested, Kwok Pui-lan's 2011 Presidential Address at the American Academy of Religion will be relevant to the seminar.

The quarterly Dean's Craft of Teaching Seminar is the flagship seminar of the Craft of Teaching program, centered on issues of course design and institutional context.  Complimentary lunch is provided at all Dean's Seminars for the first 25 RSVPs.  Please RSVP by Friday, October 30 to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu, indicating meat, vegetarian, or vegan preferences.

Katherine (Trina) Janiec Jones (AM, 1993; PhD, Philosophy of Religions, 2002) is an Associate Professor of Religion at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., where she also serves as the Associate Provost for Curriculum and Co-Curriculum.  She has won several teaching awards, served on a leadership team at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion (for a workshop for Pre-Tenure Religion Faculty and Colleges and Universities), and has consulted at several schools seeking to examine their introductory religious studies curricula (also through the Wabash Center).  She was a recipient of an American Academy of Religion/Luce Foundation Fellowship in Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology and participated in a Seminar in Teaching Interfaith Understanding, sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Interfaith Youth Core.  She is also a co-author of a rubric focused on pluralism and worldview engagement (https://www.ifyc.org/resources/pluralism-and-worldview-engagement-rubric), the research for which was funded by the Teagle Foundation.

Studying Religion in Iran: Between University and Seminary

Thursday, November 12, 12:00-2:00, Swift Hall Common Room

Iran is well-known for its centuries-old centers of Islamic scholarship where students from all over the world learn jurisprudence, sciences of hadith transmission, Qur'anic exegesis, theology, and philosophy. It is less commonly known that academic scholarship on religion has also been burgeoning outside the direct sphere of the hawzah (seminary) system. Join us for a conversation with visiting scholars from the University of Religions and Denominations in Qom who will discuss the philosophies, methods, and approaches these different institutions have adopted - not only in the study of Islam, but more broadly in comparative scholarship on religion.

Dr. Naeimeh Pourmohammadi is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the University of Religions and Denominations. 
Dr. Fatima Tofighi is Assistant Professor of Women and Religion at the University of Religions and Denominations. 
Mahdi Salehi is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Theology and Director of International Relations and Cooperation at the University of Religions and Denominations.

Alireza Doostdar, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the
Anthropology of Religion, will moderate the discussion.

Using Images to Teach Religion [Arts of Teaching]

Monday, November 16, 4:30-6:00, Swift 201


The range of resources and strategies with which we might engage in the teaching and learning of “religion” is virtually endless, shifting with different construals of the field and commitments to different learning goals. In this new Craft of Teaching series, “Using X to Teach Religion,” members of the Divinity School faculty are invited to lead Arts of Teaching workshops combining a short presentation on the merits and limits of a particular type of resource they emphasize in their courses with close consideration and group workshopping of the associated course-design and active pedagogical decisions that need to be made.

In this inaugural edition of the series, Prof. Karin Krause leads the conversation on “Using Images to Teach Religion.” Through history and across civilizations, images communicate ideas, address emotions, and arouse both devotion and criticism in ways different than texts do, ways that are often overlooked or translated into textual analogues. Bringing images into the religious studies classroom can elicit valuable attention to the extra-discursive dimensions of religious imagination, communication, and commitment, while forming the basis for productive cross-cultural comparison.

Prior to attending this workshop, each participant should (1) select an image that she or he has used or would like to use in a class, (2) email it to the Coordinators at craftofteaching@uchicago.edu (no later than Friday, Nov. 13), and (3) consider how they might like to use the image and what challenges might arise in doing so. During the workshop, we will have the opportunity to discuss as a group the course-design and pedagogical choices appropriate to the images that participants have selected. If you also have syllabi of your own design or from classes you yourselves have taken, feel free to bring them to augment the course-design conversation.

Annual Philosophy of Teaching Statement Workshop

Tuesday, December 1, 12:00-1:30, Martin Marty Center Library

The Philosophy of Teaching Statement is a document that communicates the goals and values that animate one's teaching.  Writing a teaching statement is an extremely valuable exercise in pedagogical self-reflection, and such statements are a standard component of applications in the higher education job market.  This workshop will introduce participants to the genre, examine sample documents, and start participants on their way to composing their own statements.  Led by Bill Rando, Director of the Chicago Center for Teaching. Note that a completed Philosophy of Teaching Statement is a capstone requirement for Certification in the Craft of Teaching. This workshop is not itself a requirement, but will be very helpful in completing the statement.

For the events of previous quarters, please see our archive.