The Craft of Teaching

The Craft of Teaching 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.

  • 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.

  • Reacting to the Past: A Participatory One Day Conference

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    Saturday, May 31 from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Swift Hall


    Reacting to the Past (RTTP) is an exciting, interactive approach to teaching classic texts and the history of ideas.  Imagine transforming your classroom into the Council of Nicea or the Reformation Parliament under Henry VIII or Athens after the Peloponnesian War.  RTTP consists of complex role-playing simulations in which students embody historical roles as they engage with big ideas, practice the close reading of primary texts, and cultivate skills for critical thinking and argumentation.  Pioneered at Barnard College, Reacting to the Past won the Theodore Hesburgh Award for pedagogical innovation and has been adopted at over 300 colleges and universities nationwide.

    This one-day conference is a unique opportunity for Divinity School students in all areas to experience RTTP for themselves.  We will engage in a day-long game and learn how to implement RTTP in our courses.  Lunch will be provided for all participants.

    Advanced registration is required, and enrollment is limited.  If you would to participate, email Brandon Cline (bdcline@uchicago.edu) ASAP to register, indicating any dietary preferences or restrictions.  The deadline to register is Friday, May 16.

    Our facilitator will be Kamran Swansan, Assistant Professor of Humanities & Philosophy at Harold Washington College, co-author of Charles Darwin, the Copley Medal, and the Rise of Naturalism, 1862-1864 (part of the Reacting to the Past Series published by W. W. Norton), and a member of the RTTP Consortium Board, responsible for the intellectual content and the dissemination of the RTTP program.

  • John and Jane Colman make gift of $900K to endow the Craft of Teaching (October 30, 2013)

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!

Check back in September for our fall 2014 schedule.  Enjoy your summer!

Featured Content:

Dean's Spring Craft of Teaching Seminar with Davíd Carrasco

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.

Summary of Craft of Teaching requirements for Divinity School doctoral students:

  • 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 one of the annual Divinity School Syllabus Workshops

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

Download the printable self-tracking sheet.  For additional details, see the Program Requirements page.

For more information about the Craft of Teaching, please contact:

Brandon Cline 
Program Coordinator, The Craft of Teaching
University of Chicago Divinity School