The Craft of Teaching

The Craft of Teaching (CoT) is the Divinity School's program of pedagogical development for its graduate students, dedicated to preparing a new generation of accomplished educators in the field of religious studies.  We bring together Divinity School faculty, current students, invited guests, and an extensive alumni network of decorated teachers to share strategies, develop skills, and advance critical reflection relating to religious studies pedagogy. Find out more here, or browse our program schedule and multimedia library. Craft of Teaching workshops are open to the whole university community, within and beyond the Divinity School.

The Craft of Teaching Autumn schedule is now live! 

You can view the full schedule here.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, five University of Chicago Divinity School-trained educators were invited to provide their unique insights as faculty members. Our Bloggers in Virtual Residence engage with some of the topics addressed by this year's CoT programming and discuss some of their own teaching experiences.
We will introduce a new cohort of Divinity School alumni on the Craft of Teaching blog soon!
  • The Craft of Teaching has its first publication! (September, 2015)

Hearty congratulations to the graduate student Craft of Teaching participants who have been featured in a co-authored publication in the most recent volume of Teaching Theology and Religion! After the Spring 2015 workshop, "The Art of the Approach: Negotiating Hard Choices in Introductory Course Design," Prof. Russell McCutcheon, our guest for the workshop, invited four Divinity School graduate students to respond to the essay version of his presentation and collaborate on a forum-style submission to the journal. The publication, entitled "Crafting the Introductory Course in Religious Studies," consists of Prof. McCutcheon's essay, the four Divinity School responses (by Andrew Durdin, Kelli Gardner, Adam Miller, and Emily Crews), and an introduction by Aaron Hollander, Program Coordinator for the Craft of Teaching. Download the publication from the journal here and we'll keep you apprised of further interventions in the field of religious studies pedagogy by Craft of Teaching participants.

John and Jane Colman, long-time friends and supporters of the Divinity School, have made a generous gift of $900,000 to endow the Craft of Teaching.  The entire Divinity School community is deeply appreciative of their vision and leadership. Read more here

Unpacking the Seminar: Teaching Well from Our Research

Thursday, October 12, 1:00-2:30 pm, Swift 208

openbooks.jpgOf the many challenges facing educators at every stage of their career, one of the most fundamental is the relationship between teaching and research. Although much of our teaching may be outside our areas of expertise, it is still essential to be clear on how we can “translate” topics of our own intellectual interest into responsible and pedagogically productive formats for teaching.

In this workshop, join Professor Willemien Otten (History of Christianity; Theology) and Professor Brook Ziporyn (Philosophy of Religions) for a close consideration of different possibilities for how we define course topics (or sets of texts, or key figures) with which we want to deal, how we broaden them in such a way as to set up courses with a narrative arc, how we divide and organize the different components of a problem or field of inquiry, how we find additional materials to complement those we know best, and how we create useful assignments for a student body that is diverse in its interests and capacities.

In advance of the workshop, participants are asked to review sample syllabi from our faculty facilitators, where these challenges are addressed through the making of particular choices of course design and implementation. These syllabi can be found here. Please also think of a topic or text around which you would like to build a course and reflect briefly on your vision for teaching that material -- we will discuss your ideas during the workshop.

Pedagogy Unbound: Educating about Religion beyond Academia

Friday, October 27, 1:00-3:00 pm, Swift Hall Common Room


When it comes to cultivating outstanding educators in the field of religion, the Divinity School has always had a far wider reach than the university classroom. To be a scholar and educator in religion is to be accountable to the interlocking publics of a society that makes the university necessary, and it is the Craft of Teaching Program’s commitment to highlight and support the ways that intellectual training at the Divinity School equips graduates to raise the level of the conversation around religion in a wide variety of fields and professions.

Join us for this very special event, to hear from a panel of three Divinity School alumni who are leaders in the forms and contexts of education about religion beyond academia: represented here are voices from the museum profession, from an interfaith relations NGO, and from new frontiers in online journalism. Before opening up for a general conversation with workshop participants, our panelists will speak about the work that they do and have done, about how and why education about religion figures into it, about the trajectories that have taken them from degrees at the Divinity School to their current positions, and about the contributions they envision for the future.

All are welcome, with no advance preparation. A light lunch reception will be held in the Common Room between 12:15-1:00, immediately prior to the workshop. Please RSVP (by Sunday, October 22) to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu, if you will join for lunch.


Alice Greenwald (AM ‘75) is the President and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. She has had a long and eminent career in the museum profession, having previously served in a variety of directorial and curatorial roles at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and the Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum. She is the author of several articles in museum studies, art history, and historiography, and she has received several awards including an NEA Fellowship for Museum Professionals (1981). 

Heather Miller Rubens (AM ‘04, PhD ‘11) is the Executive Director and Roman Catholic Scholar of the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies. In her research Rubens explores how religious communities navigate political, legal, and cultural spaces, as well as how different religious communities relate to one another in particular contexts. In addition to historical research, Rubens develops educational initiatives that foster interreligious learning for the public in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. She has been an adjunct professor at Lewis University, DePaul University and St. Mary’s Seminary, and is a member of the Committee on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

Jeremy Fuzy (MDiv ‘15) is a religion journalist and former Editor at RealClearReligion, an online hub which aggregates writing on religious and interreligious topics from a variety of reputable sources, bringing together contributions from a range of ideological and cultural perspectives. At RCR, Fuzy worked to create a resource that makes available the best journalistic writing about religion, so as to demonstrate the diversity, dynamism, and intersectionality of religion in contemporary society.

See our full Autumn 2017 lineup here

Featured Content:

Beyond Polarization: Professor Martin Marty on Strategies for Public Engagement

Monday, April 27, 4:00-5:30 pm, Swift Hall Common Room

Reflecting on a lifetime of public engagement, Prof. Marty discusses concrete strategies for communicating with broader audiences and for enhancing public discourse as scholars of religion.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please send a message to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu.

Dean's Spring Craft of Teaching Seminar with Alumna of the Year, Laurie L. Patton

Thursday, April 23, 12:00-1:30 pm, Swift Hall Common Room

Rebecca ChoppLed by Dean Laurie Patton (PhD, History of Religions, 1991), this pedagogy seminar focuses on a graduate course on the theory of comparison: "The Very Idea of Comparing Religions." Dean Patton, the incoming President of Middlebury College, leads a discussion on how a case-study method may be effectively used for teaching comparatively, drawing on her own extensive experience with such a method. Teaching comparatively, moreover, may involve not only drawing on the case studies of others but also equipping students to design and carry out their own case studies.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please send a message to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu.

Dean's Craft of Teaching Seminar with Chancellor Rebecca Chopp (Winter 2015)

Thursday, February 12 from 12:00-2:00 PM in the Swift Common Room

Rebecca ChoppLed by Rebecca Chopp (PhD, Theology, 1983), Chancellor of the University of Denver and former President and Professor of Religion at Swarthmore College and Colgate University.  In this unique Dean's Seminar, Chancellor Chopp will draw upon her extensive experience in higher education leadership to discuss her approach to the classroom and university administration.  She will address the future of higher education and liberal education in particular, as well as the rewards and challenges of administrative leadership today. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.



If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please send a message to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu.

Dean's Craft of Teaching Seminar with Joanne Maguire Robinson (Autumn 2014): "From Paper Syllabi to Online Learning: Expanding Course Boundaries"

Friday, October 24 from 12:00-2:00 PM in the Swift Hall Common Room

With the help of technology, college-level teaching has expanded well beyond classroom walls.  Using a selection of syllabi from her seventeen-year career, Divinity School alumna Joanne Maguire Robinson (PhD, History of Christianity, 1996) will discuss shifting settings for and assumptions about both teaching and learning.  Prof. Robinson is Associate Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  She is a recipient of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence (2012), a National Endowment for the Humanities "Enduring Questions" course development grant (2012), and the North Carolina Board of Governors' Award for Excellence in Teaching (2013).  She is also a member of the Editorial Board of Teaching Theology and Religion.  Prof. Robinson is the author of Nobility and Annihilation in Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls (SUNY 2001) and is presently revising Waiting in Christianity.  

If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please send a message to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu.

Dean's Craft of Teaching Seminar with Jonathan Z. Smith (Winter 2013)

February 27, 2013

jzsmith3.jpgLed by Prof. Jonathan Z. Smith, Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor of the Humanities, Associate Faculty in the Divinity School, and author of a collection of essays on pedagogy entitled On Teaching Religion: Essays by Jonathan Z. Smith (edited by Christopher Lehrich; Oxford UP, 2012).  Prof. Smith discusses his approach to pedagogy especially in relation to the Introduction to Religious Studies course that he taught in the College.

If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please send a message to craftofteaching@uchicago.edu.

Visit our Multimedia Library for audio and video of more Craft of Teaching events.

Craft of Teaching requirements for Divinity School doctoral students:

  • Participation in the Chicago Center for Teaching's annual Teaching@Chicago Conference.

  • Participation at three Dean's Quarterly Craft of Teaching Seminars

  • Participation in three Arts of Teaching Workshops

  • Participation in at least five additional Craft of Teaching programs of your choosing

  • Submission of a Philosophy of Teaching Statement

Download the printable self-tracking sheet available in Word format or PDF.  For additional details, see the Program Requirements page.

For more information about the Craft of Teaching, please contact: craftofteaching@uchicago.edu

Aaron Hollander
Program Coordinator, The Craft of Teaching
University of Chicago Divinity School
Cameron Ferguson
Associate Coordinator, The Craft of Teaching
University of Chicago Divinity School