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, and an extensive alumni network of decorated teachers to share our craft and to advance critical reflection on religious studies pedagogy. Find out more here, or browse our program schedule and multimedia library.

  • Craft of Teaching schedule for Autumn 2015 is HERE!

Check out the Fall 2015 schedule here. We are excited to start off a new academic year filled with diverse and innovative pedagogical programming.

  • Stay tuned for updates on the future of the Craft of Teaching blog

  • Andrew DeCort named 2014 Excellence in Course Design Award Finalist

Congratulations to Divinity School PhD student Andrew DeCort for being selected as a finalist for the 2014 Excellence in Course Design Award by the Chicago Center for Teaching. Andrew's course "Authority, Action, Ethics: Ethiopia", taught at Wheaton College last spring, was recognized as exemplary from a highly competitive pool of applications submitted by graduate students from all the university's divisions.

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

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

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.

See our full line-up on our schedule page.

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.

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.



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.



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.  

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.


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

Craft of Teaching requirements for Divinity School doctoral students (updated September 2014):

  • 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
Marshall Cunningham
Associate Coordinator, The Craft of Teaching
University of Chicago Divinity School