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.

  • Winter 2017 schedule is live!

Check out our upcoming programs here.

  • Celebrate five years of the Craft of Teaching program

This winter marks the fifth anniversary of the Craft of Teaching program. Please join us for a festive reception and short program of remarks and awards: Thursday, February 9, 4:30-7:30 [note date change], Swift Hall Common Room. For more information, and to RSVP, please click through to our EventBrite page.

Sean Hannan_0.jpgCheck out the latest blog post by Sean Hannan (MacEwan University)  here: "The Travails of Trying to go Digital."
For the 2016-2017 academic year, five University of Chicago Divinity School-trained educators are 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.
  • 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


1/11/17 Reimagining Assignment Design [Arts of Teaching]

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.

***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 alumni community. Through the great generosity of John and Jane Colman in endowing the program for future generations, and through the dedication of its program staff in steering the fledgling program, we now have a robust and continually evolving annual program 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.

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.

See our full Winter 2017 lineup here

For the remainder of the quarter's events, see our full schedule

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 detailed descriptions of upcoming events, please see our schedule 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
Maureen Kelly
Associate Coordinator, The Craft of Teaching
University of Chicago Divinity School