2016-17 Craft of Teaching Schedule

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Winter 2017   

Wednesday, January 11, 9:00-10:30 am, Swift 208​

larry-mcenerney.jpgIt is an obvious truth that a poor writing prompt will accomplish little even as it drains the time and emotional stamina of students and instructor alike. And it is an obvious truth that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But it is much less obvious how to design assignments that both construct the arena for specific learning sought by the teacher and, at the same time, motivate students to put their best feet forward.

In this session, join Larry McEnerney, Director of the University of Chicago Writing Program, for a workshop on creative assignment design that will help participants break out from the rut of one damn paper-prompt after another, calibrating an array of design strategies with the possible learning goals to which individual instructors can be dedicated.

Participants should come to this session with the draft of an assignment -- either one they have used or one they could envision using in a course. These assignments will be workshopped and fine-tuned during the session.

Never fear -- coffee, tea, and light breakfast fare will be available!

“Salt for the Impure, Light for the Pure”: Cumulative Assignment Design and Students’ Intellectual Development (with the Early Christian Studies Workshop)

Monday, January 23, 12:00-1:30 pm, Swift 200

ellen faculty pic.jpgIn the second of our two sessions this quarter on cultivating excellence and creativity in assignment design, join Ellen Muehlberger (University of Michigan) for lunch and a conversation about the merits and strategies of cumulative assignment design, that is, interweaving multiple assignments within a course in order to meet students where they are and lead them in the progressive development of the range of skills that they have. Prof Muehlberger’s own recent course, which successfully integrated a mixed group of majors and non-majors, will serve as a case study.

If you will join us for lunch, please RSVP to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu no later than Thursday, January 19. A packet including Prof. Muehlberger’s syllabus and its series of assignments is available for perusal here.

Please note: Prof. Muehlberger will also be presenting at the Early Christian Studies Workshop on the same day, 4:30-6:00, location TBA.

Ellen Muehlberger is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Her work focuses on the history of Christianity in “late antiquity,” roughly 300 C.E. to 700 C.E., and is particularly interested in the rhetorical and historiographical methods Christians adopted as Christian culture shifted from a minority to dominant position in the later Roman Empire. Her current project examines the subjective experience of death as imagined by late ancient Christians. She teach undergraduate courses on Christianity; graduate courses on Christianity in late antiquity, Gnosticism, asceticism, and theories of historiography; and language courses in Greek, Coptic, and Syriac.

Winter Dean's Seminar in the Craft of Teaching, with Daisy Machado 

Friday, January 27, 12:00-2:00 pm, Swift Hall Common Room

daisy-machado.jpg“Pedagogy and the Public Intellectual”

This seminar, with Rev. Dr. Daisy Machado (Union Theological Seminary) will explore one important role available to the scholar/teacher: as public intellectual who seeks to understand lived religion as a lens through which divine presence and activity are interpreted in the world. Together we will explore how research, teaching, and writing can be integrated as a form of public responsibility that examines the realities of people’s embodied faith, especially in the marginalized communities whose existence challenges but often remains unaccounted for by mainstream scholarly accounts.

An index of syllabi, articles, and other resources that will be relevant to Prof. Machado's seminar are available here: feel free to browse prior to the workshop.

The quarterly Dean's Craft of Teaching Seminar is the flagship seminar of the Craft of Teaching program, centered on issues of course design, institutional context, and leadership in higher education.  Complimentary lunch is provided at all Dean's Seminars for the first 25 RSVPs. Please RSVP by Monday, January 23 to , indicating meat, vegetarian, or vegan preferences.

Daisy Machado (PhD 1996, History of Christianity) is Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary. Her scholarship focuses specifically on United States Christianities. She is the first U.S. Latina ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1981 in the Northeast Region and has served inner city congregations in Brooklyn, Houston, and Fort Worth. A native of Cuba, she was raised in New York, lived in Texas for twenty years, and lived in Lexington, KY for two years, where she served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Lexington Theological Seminary. Dr. Machado has a great interest in the concept of “borderlands,” which is a multilayered word that not only refers to a specific geographic location, but for Latinas and other women of color also refers to a social, economic, political, and personal location within the dominant culture.

Annual Undergraduate Course Design Workshop (featuring: Teaching as an Adjunct)

Friday, February 3, 2:00-4:00 pm, Swift 200

41DCfcCDSvL._SY300_.jpgDesigning a college course is no easy task.  It requires making difficult decisions about a whole host of issues, from what you should teach and how you should teach it to what you want students to know and how to tell if they know it. This installment of The Craft of Teaching Program’s Undergraduate Course Design Workshop is intended to assist participants in negotiating that complex process. It will be especially fruitful for people who are applying (or intending to apply) to adjunct positions for which they’ll need to design their own courses.  

In the workshop we will discuss strategies for designing courses that will appeal to both students and selection committees.  We’ll consider issues of course scope, institutional fit, marketability, and goal-setting. In particular we’ll work on creating:

1: a compelling and accurate course description;
2: realistic learning goals;
3: assignments that help you achieve those goals; and
4: a draft of a final product for use in job applications.

Participants should RSVP to , and should come prepared with a draft course description and a provisional list of learning goals and assignments. Lunch will be available for those who RSVP.

This session will be led by Emily D. Crews, PhD candidate in History of Religions at the Divinity School and the Interim Director of Undergraduate Studies in Religious Studies at the University of Chicago.  She has taught courses in the UChicago College and at Lake Forest College, and has constructed scores of syllabi and cover letters. She will facilitate the session as a peer guide, sharing her recent experiences in adjuncting in the Chicago area and the valuable advice she’s gotten along the way. 

***Craft of Teaching Fifth Anniversary Celebration***

Thursday, February 9, 4:30-7:30 pm, Swift Hall Common Room

Unknown.jpegFive years ago, in January of 2012, the Divinity School hosted its first Craft of Teaching workshop, an experiment with resounding consequences for the Divinity School and for its wider community. Thanks to the inaugural vision and leadership of former Dean Margaret M. Mitchell,  the great generosity of John and Jane Colman in endowing the Craft of Teaching for future generations, and the dedication of its program staff, we now have a robust and continually evolving annual series of lectures, seminars, workshops, and symposia, complemented by support for the Divinity School’s graduate student educators (acting as TAs in the U of C and as instructors at many area institutions) and a Craft of Teaching Blog that feeds a conversation on religious studies pedagogy between our alumni educators and our current students. In five short years, the Craft of Teaching has become nationally and internationally recognized as a cutting-edge program for the pedagogical development of graduate students and a vibrant hub for conversation and resources in the teaching of the academic study of religion. Divinity School students who have participated in the Craft of Teaching program have begun to graduate and earn faculty appointments around the country and the world.

Please join the Craft of Teaching program staff, the Teaching Task Force of the Divinity School, faculty, students, alumni, and friends for a festive reception in honor of the Craft of Teaching and all who have participated in it. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres beginning at 4:30, with a short program of remarks and awards at 5:00. Please feel free to join for as much or little of the event as you are able.

This celebration is co-hosted by the Craft of Teaching, the Dean's Office, and the DSA. We appreciate your RSVP for this event, to keep track of our numbers, but you are welcome regardless. Click through to our EventBrite page to RSVP.

Public Religious Literacy in Secondary and Post-Secondary Education: A Critical Theory Approach (with the Martin Marty Center)

Monday, February 13, 4:30-6:30 pm, Swift Hall Common Room

moore-fac-profile-180x220.jpgReligious literacy is often associated with information about the beliefs, ritual practices, and sacred spaces associated with “world religions.”  In this Craft of Teaching / Martin Marty Center workshop, led by Prof. Diane Moore (Harvard Divinity School), we will explore a more complex understanding of religious literacy that focuses on a method for understanding how religions function in human experience.  We will examine 1) why better literacy about religion is essential for understanding human affairs in contemporary and historic contexts and 2) how a critical theory approach to teaching and learning about religion in secondary and post-secondary classrooms is relevant for both education broadly defined and healthy civic life.

In particular, the necessity and nature of teaching religion at the secondary-school level will be emphasized, as one of the crucial and underappreciated sites where the craft of teaching religion takes place.

Prior to this workshop, participants should review the short methods paper available here. Additional (and optional!) relevant reading is the American Academy of Religion’s Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K-12 Public Schools.

Diane L. Moore is the director of the Religious Literacy Project and a Senior Scholar at the Center for the Study of World Religions. She focuses her research on enhancing the public understanding of religion through education from the lens of critical theory. Moore chaired the American Academy of Religion's Task Force on Religion in the Schools, which conducted a three-year initiative to establish guidelines for teaching about religion in K-12 public schools (PDF) that were published in 2010. She is the coordinator for the Religious Studies and Education Certificate, and her book Overcoming Religious Illiteracy: A Cultural Studies Approach to the Study of Religion in Secondary Education was published by Palgrave in 2007.

Teaching Islam as a Nonspecialist (with the Islamic Studies Workshop)

Friday, February 24, 1:30-3:30 pm, Swift 208


It is a reality of the profession that educators trained in specific disciplines and with particular bodies of expertise will be called upon, at various stages of their career and to variable extents, to teach material that they do not know well. Young faculty in particular are always being asked to teach outside their specialties in order to help their departments participate in a broad interdisciplinary curriculum and respond to the academic interests of students in an ever-changing world. Teaching as a nonspecialist need not be cause for alarm or anxiety: teaching as a nonspecialist can be refreshing for an educator and offer a model for students in engaging the unfamiliar. Nonetheless, guidance in approaching specific bodies of widely taught material or problems in the study of religion is invaluable.

In this new series, “Teaching X as a Nonspecialist,” faculty who are veterans of making pedagogical gold of (what had once been) unfamiliar worlds will lead sessions drawing on their experiences and insights to aid graduate students in learning to do the same. The inaugural session, led by Prof. Catherine Benton (Lake Forest College), will be of value for all those who imagine that they might find themselves teaching Islam -- an increasing likelihood in our day. Prof. Michael Sells (Divinity School) will respond and help shape our conversation.

In advance of the workshop, please review the attached syllabi of Prof. Benton: evolving iterations of her teaching of "Introduction to Islam." 

Catherine Benton is the Associate Professor of Religion and Chair of Asian Studies at Lake Forest. Her current research interests include oral histories of Muslim women in Khuldabad, Maharashtra, India, a Sufi pilgrimage center in western India, based on field research in India 2003-2015.  She is also working on a project that includes oral histories of Hindu Vedanta nuns in the U.S. and India, and Buddhist nuns in Bhutan.

Michael Sells is the John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature. He studies and teaches in the areas of qur'anic studies; Sufism; Arabic and Islamic love poetry; mystical literature (Greek, Islamic, Christian, and Jewish); and religion and violence. He is the author of eight books and over sixty articles, and he has been the receipient of major academic awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship for the arts and humanities.

The Logic of Lessons: Instructor Preparation and Student Learning [Arts of Teaching]

Tuesday, March 7, 4:30-6:30 pm, S208

blank-Puzzle.jpgPedagogy does not begin with stepping into the classroom: strategic lesson planning in advance, combined with an improvisational readiness to adapt and flow with the needs of the moment, is of great pedagogical power, especially when teaching complex material and students who need careful guidance in understanding it. In this session, co-facilitated by Prof. Kevin Hector (Theology & Philosophy of Religion) and David Barr (PhD Candidate, Religious Ethics), participants will get to know the basic processes of student learning and will learn to implement practical strategies for planning classes that engage them, across a variety of institutional contexts. How does individual class planning vary from type to type of class (seminar, lecture, blend, etc) -- and what kind of decisions need to be made at a more fine-grained level than that of the syllabus?

Since we will spend a portion of the session working to produce the outline of an actual lesson plan, participants should come with the content of a particular class period (real or hypothetical) in mind. All that is required is a general sense of the material to be covered and the sort of course in which it will or would be given.


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