2016-17 Craft of Teaching Schedule

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Autumn 2016   

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

September 21-22, 9 am - 5 pm


The Chicago Center for Teaching's fall 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 Wednesday, September 21st and Thursday, September 22nd, and each day will be devoted to a specific group: Wednesday to Teaching Assistants and Thursday 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 (of your choice, depending on your needs) is a requirement for Craft of Teaching Certification.

Friday, September 30, 1:30-3:30, Swift Third Floor Lecture Hall

Its-christmastime-again-charlie-brown-20.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 fundamental concepts of public speaking and provide practical advice for building confidence in front of an audience, using our bodies and voices to communicate information more effectively, and to connect with audiences.  Led by Aaron Hollander, Program Coordinator for the Craft of Teaching. Participation in this workshop is will be of service to Divinity School students in any program and area, whether or not they will pursue Craft of Teaching certification. Coffee and tea will be provided.

Friday, October 14, 1:30-3:30 pm, Swift 106


This year, the Craft of Teaching program is especially committed to examining variances between the many contexts in which religious studies education takes place. Such variances begin, however, well before a faculty member is appointed in a department -- on the job market, applicants will encounter a wide range of approaches to teaching and to the professional expectations of a religious studies educator. Different kinds of teaching materials may be requested, evaluations or demonstrations of different sorts may be expected, and applicants will find themselves in need of representing their own pedagogical experience and orientations in personal conversation as well as in written statements. The role of teaching on the academic job market is anything but standardized, but it is always a matter of significance.

This panel, featuring three University of Chicago alumni who serve as department heads or program directors in diverse institutional contexts, will consider the different ways that -- in the course of search processes for academic positions -- applicants' teaching is considered within the holistic parameters of searches, that is, how their teaching experience, philosophy, and other materials are evaluated, interpreted, weighed, etc, in the teaching environments represented by our panelists. Such a conversation will shed light on a process that, for many graduate students, remains all too opaque, in the process equipping them to think more critically and speak more productively about their own teaching, vis-à-vis the applications they will make at different kinds of institutions.


Susan Hill (AM ‘86, PhD in Religion & Literature, ‘93; Professor of Religion, University of Northern Iowa)

Khaled Keshk (PhD in NELC, ‘02; Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, DePaul University)

Esther Menn (AM ‘85, PhD in Biblical Studies, ‘95; Dean and VP for Academic Affairs; The Ralph W. and Marilyn R. Klein Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, LSTC)

Autumn Dean’s Seminar in the Craft of Teaching, with Mark Wallace

Friday, October 28, 12:00-2:00 pm, Swift Hall Common Room

“Religion, Ecology, and Institutional Citizenship in the Anthropocene Era”

profile_wallace.jpgIn a time when humankind’s intensive use of resources has caused massive changes to the global climate, one of the challenges of the study of religion is to analyze critically the religious and moral worldviews that have shaped these changes.  The emerging discipline of religion & ecology focuses on how religious traditions have grounded human beings' fundamental outlooks on the environment in ancient and modern times.  In turn, it examines how various spiritual worldviews can aid – or not – the development of an Earth-centered philosophy of life in a time of human-caused global warming, the so-called era of the Anthropocene. This discipline contends that the environmental crisis, at its core, is less a scientific or technological problem and more a spiritual problem, a matter of the heart more than one of the head. Market values have overtaken community values, and the lives of most people in the developed world run opposite the crucial insight in the American Indian proverb, "The frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives."

In this seminar, join Professor Mark Wallace of Swarthmore College to consider a range of pedagogical and institutional considerations that reflect the diagnoses of an ecological perspective. In such a natural and cultural context, the university classroom is not closed in on itself but is part of a living network of people, institutions, and organisms, all bearing an impact on one another’s flourishing. Pedagogically, diverse approaches exist for integrating the fields of inquiry in religious studies with this broader orientation, whether at the classroom level or the level of the larger institution.  In addition to in-class dialogue, writing, and exam assignments, alternative learning activities may cultivate cognitive development, self-discovery, and growth in civic responsibility, including:

*  Community Based Learning, including class members volunteering in under-resourced communities in order to develop, as referred to by Swarthmore College, ethical intelligence in a mission-driven educational context.  To that end, the goal of community based learning is to integrate classroom theory and community practice so that that class members can become more reflective and competent participants in public life.)

570_tori_gate.jpg*  Earth-Based Rituals, including nonsectarian performative and contemplative practices, borrowed and modified from different religious and cultural traditions, to develop experiential understandings of class subject matter. These “spiritual lab” practices often include neo-Pagan Council of All Beings ritual, lectio divina contemplative reading, modified Tu B’shevat (Tree Planting) ceremony, Zen Buddhist zazen sitting meditation, and Lakota medicine wheel practice.

*  Student exposure to, analysis of, and involvement in institutional policies, including land use, energy use, investment, food acquisition and waste disposal, curriculum development, etc.

In advance of this seminar, please download and review the packet of syllabi here. For additional, optional reading, please see the collaborative final project report of Prof. Wallace's "The Green Campus" students here.

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 Monday, October 24 to , indicating meat, vegetarian, or vegan preferences.

Mark I. Wallace (PhD in Theology, ‘86; Professor of Religion, Swarthmore College) focuses his research and teaching on the intersections between Christian theology, critical theory, environmental studies, and postmodernism. He is a member of the Interpretation Theory Committee and the Environmental Studies Committee at Swarthmore; he is a member of the Constructive Theology Workgroup, active in the educational justice movement in the city of Chester, and received an Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Fellowship for research in Costa Rica. He is the author of Green Christianity (Fortress, 2010),  Finding God in the Singing River: Christianity, Spirit, Nature (Fortress, 2005), Fragments of the Spirit: Nature, Violence, and the Renewal of Creation (Continuum, 1996; Trinity, 2002), The Second Naïveté: Barth, Ricoeur, and the New Yale Theology (Mercer University Press, 1990, 1995), and he is the editor of Paul Ricoeur's Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination (Fortress, 1995).

Using Practical Cases to Teach Religion [Arts of Teaching]

Monday, November 14, 4:30-6:30 pm, Swift 200

The range of resources and strategies with which we might engage in the teaching and learning of “religion” is virtually endless, though their usage shifts with different construals of the field and commitments to different learning goals. In the 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 edition, join Professor Richard Miller to consider the pedagogy of using practical cases to augment appreciation of otherwise theoretical or conceptual material. In the field of religious ethics, for instance: although it is sometimes stated that knowing moral theory is sufficient for resolving ethical questions that arise in practical experience and that the knowledge of cases adds little to moral knowledge, this theoretical priority is challenged by realities that seem not to be satisfied or exhausted by the interpretations we give of them. We will put these issues to the test through a discussion of historical cases and patterns of practical reasoning that, in participants’ respective fields, might be used to interrogate or enhance theoretical frameworks.

Prior to attending this workshop, participants are asked to select a historical or contemporary case that they might consider using in their classes, whether as a primary ‘text’ or as an example for testing or troubling other material (for example, a news story detailing a development in genetic engineering, or an example of sectarian violence over a shared sacred site). Please send a description of your case and the kind of class in which you would consider using it to the CoT Coordinators at craftofteaching@uchicago.edu (by Friday, November 11), and come to the workshop prepared to introduce your case to the group and discuss your preliminary insights.

Microteaching: The Art of Questioning [Arts of Teaching]

Wednesday, November 30, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, Martin Marty Center

Socrates_Pio-Clementino_Inv314.jpgMicroteaching is organized practice teaching in a supportive, low-risk environment.  Participants will teach a short lesson to a small group of peers and receive detailed feedback (including self-assessment based on video-recording) on their teaching strategy and performance. This Autumn’s microteaching workshop focuses the pedagogy of dialogue and the skills (part logical and part improvisational) required to cultivate student learning through the posing and sequencing of questions. Sometimes associated with “Socratic method,” the cluster of techniques we will practice is dedicated to drawing out what students already know, examining entailments of the positions they may hold more or less critically, and connecting these with the material at hand.  Each participant will lead a ten-minute discussion on pre-selected material, aiming to teach through interrogation rather than assertion.

The workshop will be facilitated by Richard Rosengarten, Dean and Associate Professor of Religion and Literature; and Aaron Hollander, Craft of Teaching Program Coordinator. Participation is strictly limited and advanced registration is required. If you are interested in being involved in this workshop, email the coordinators at craftofteaching@uchicago.edu as soon as possible to receive further information.

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