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 Spring 2015 is up! 

Check out the Spring schedule here - and stay tuned for room assignments, packets of reading, and added details.

  • The CoT unveils its new blog (Oct 24, 2014)!

  • Important improvements in the Craft of Teaching announced for 2014-15  

Download the our fall newsletter to see changes in the program requirements and a preview of the upcoming year of new offerings and initiatives!






  • 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.

The Craft of Teaching not only has a new Facebook page, we now have a members-only group for online conversation about pedagogy!  We'll communicate event info on our FB page, while our FB group is intended as a semi-private place to post questions, share ideas, and otherwise confer about teaching and professionalization.  You could share your thoughts on the last Craft of Teaching Seminar; or ask other teachers for advice about leading an upcoming discussion section; or post a link to an interesting article on the future of religious studies departments.  It will also be a fantastic place to connect with and ask questions of Div School alums on FB, who are eager to share their teaching experiences with current students.   Be sure to like our page and join our group the next time you're on FB!

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 Chopp

This pedagogy seminar will focus on a graduate course on the theory of comparison: "The Very Idea of Comparing Religions." Dean Laurie Patton (Duke University, incoming President of Middlebury College) will lead 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. Dean Patton’s presentation will address effects of such pedagogical methods, the merits and limits of using the same case study throughout the course, how to enable students’ sustained engagement with such case studies to become more textured as the course proceeds, and how the particular design of this class fosters a specific kind of intellectual community.

Dean Patton's syllabus can be accessed in advance 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 Friday, April 17 to  , indicating meat, vegetarian, or vegan preferences. 

Laurie L. Patton (PhD, History of Religions, 1991) is incoming President of Middlebury College.  She is currently the Dean of the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion, and Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. She is the Divinity School’s 2015 Alum of the Year.

Beyond Polarization: Professor Martin Marty on Strategies for Public Engagement

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


In collaboration with the Marty Center, the Craft of Teaching is pleased to present a special workshop with Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity.  Reflecting on a lifetime of public engagement, Prof. Marty will discuss concrete strategies for communicating with broader audiences and for enhancing public discourse as scholars of religion.  In advance of this workshop, please read Robert Kelly's article, "Public Theology and the Modern Social Imaginary." Also available, for optional advance reading, are selections of Prof. Marty’s published writing on the challenges of public conversation about religion, illustrating exemplary public engagement. The first selection includes the chapters “Argument, Conversation, and Story,” and “Tools for Moving from Argument to Conversation.” The second selection includes “Handle with Care” and “Worth the Risk.”  

Please remain after the workshop for a celebratory reception hosted by the Craft of Teaching Program and the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion!

Introducing Religion: A Swift Hall Colloquium

Friday, May 1, 9 am - 5 pm, Swift Hall Common Room


One of the most difficult, yet most important, tasks for the scholar of religion is thinking about how to teach the college-level introductory course in Religious Studies. How should you teach it -- as a "World Religions" class? A "Theory and Methods" class? What should you teach, given that most of us don't specialize in all religions, everywhere? At this full-day colloquium, seven members of the Divinity School faculty will facilitate a richly-textured conversation on the introductory course in all its complexity, taking as a starting point the notion that the academic study of religion should begin with its sources, broadly construed. Each faculty member has chosen a particular source that he or she thinks will work well in an introduction to Religion Studies, and these will be available as a pre-circulated packet, available below. On the day of the workshop, each faculty member will introduce their source, then conversation will be opened to all for a discussion of its challenges and possibilities.

Schedule for the day's Colloquium is below. Packet of materials (please obtain your own copy) is available here:

8:45-9:00        First access to breakfast & coffee!

9:00-9:15         Welcome and Introduction

9:15-10:00       Margaret Mitchell on the Abercius Inscription

10:00-10:15     Break

10:15-11:00      Wendy Doniger on Hindu cosmogonic and devotional poetry

11:00-11:15       Break

11:15-12:00      Richard Rosengarten on George Herbert, "Love (III)"

12:00-1:15       Lunch

1:30-2:15         Jaś Elsner on the C6 Beth Alpha Synagogue floor mosaic

2:15-3:00        Dan Arnold on "The Emptiness of Emptiness"

3:00-3:15        Break

3:15-4:00        Kevin Hector on Ernst Troeltsch, "The Absoluteness of Christianity and the History of Religions" 

4:00-4:45       Sarah Hammerschlag on Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

All interested members of the Swift Hall community are welcome to attend and participate in this very special gathering. Please plan to come for part even if you are not available to attend for the whole day. Register to craftofteachingreligion@gmail.com by April 24th to note lunch preference (meat, vegetarian, vegan). 

See our full line-up on our schedule page.

Featured Content:

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 Davíd Carrasco (Spring 2014)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CT - Carrasco.jpgLed by the 2014 Divinity School Alumnus of the Year Davíd Carrasco (ThM 1970, MA 1974, PhD, History of Religions, 1977), Neil Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America at Harvard University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology and the Harvard Divinity School.  Prof. Carrasco is the author of numerous books, including Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of EmpireReligions of Mesoamerica,  Breaking Through Mexico's Past: Digging the Aztecs With Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and Cave, City, and Eagle's Nest: An Interpretive Journey Through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2.  He has served as the editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures and was the executive co-producer of the award winning film Alambrista: The Director’s Cut which put a human face on the ordeal of undocumented workers from Mexico.  Prof. Carrasco will discuss his pedagogy in relation to his teaching context and a recent course he has taught.  Professor Carrasco's syllabus for "Moctezuma’s México" is available for download here.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

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):

  • Attendance at the Center for Teaching and Learning's Workshop on Teaching in the College and the submission of a workshop journal

  • Attendance at three of the 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: craftofteachingreligion@gmail.com

hollander 2.jpgAaron Hollander
Program Coordinator, The Craft of Teaching
University of Chicago Divinity School