Past Craft of Teaching Events

Winter 2014   

Authority in the Classroom

Monday, January 27 from 12:00-1:30PM in Swift 208

Professor Sarah Hammerschlag, Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature at the Divinity School, will lead us in a discussion about the role of authority in the classroom, the various ways in which a teacher might construct it, and how to negotiate our role as teacher within different classrooms and academic settings.  Feel free to bring a lunch.  Presented by the Religion and Literature Club.

Teaching the Bible with Technology

Tuesday, January 28 from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 106

This workshop will focus on teaching the Bible--its texts, languages, and history--with technology, covering a range of approaches from online resources to online teaching.  Join us for presentations and discussions with two recent Bible program alumnae: Anne Knafl, Bibliographer for Religion and Philosophy at the University of Chicago Library, and Annette Huizenga, Assistant Professor of New Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.  Co-sponsored by the Hebrew Bible and the Early Christian Studies Workshops.

Craft of Teaching Microteaching Workshop

Friday, Feb 7 from 2:00-5:00 PM

Microteaching is organized practice teaching in a supportive, low-risk environment.  Participants will prepare a 10 minute lesson plan, teach it to a small group of peers, and receive detailed feedback (including self-assessment based on video-recording) on their teaching strategy and performance.   Microteaching helps teachers of all levels improve both the content and methods of teaching and practice specific teaching skills such as questioning, the use of examples and simple artifacts to make lessons more interesting, effective reinforcement techniques, and introducing and closing lessons effectively. View our Participants Guide here for more information.  Consultants will include Cynthia Lindner, Director of Ministry Studies and Clinical Faculty for Preaching and Pastoral Care, and Brandon Cline, Craft of Teaching Program Coordinator and a senior Teaching Consultant at the University's Center for Teaching and Learning.  Participation is strictly limited and advanced registration is required.  You can register by emailing Brandon at

Divinity School Syllabus Workshop

Friday, February 21 from 12:00-3:00 PM in Swift 200

Led by Prof. Lucy Pick, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity.  This annual three-hour workshop centers on course and syllabus design.  Participants draft course titles and descriptions that are peer-reviewed during the workshop.   This workshop is required for the Craft of Teaching certificate, but participation is limited, and advanced registration is required.  In the first hour, we will discuss the principles of good course design including how to title a course and write a course description, how to structure a course for college students, what kinds and how many readings and assignments to include, among other topics.  In the remaining time we will discuss the course titles and descriptions you submitted, consider how to make them stronger, and how they might be fleshed out into a full syllabus.  Lunch will be provided.  In order to register, you must email Prof. Pick (lucypick@uchicago.eduby Tuesday, February 18th at noon with your name, the title of a college-level course you might like to teach some day (or have taught) and a brief, one paragraph description of the course.  You can also include a short list of readings you might use in the course.  It should be no longer than a single page.


The Art of Lecturing

Tuesday, February 25 from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 106

This program, featuring Prof. Hindy Najman, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, and Dean Margaret M. Mitchell, and moderated by Jonathan Soyars, PhD student in New Testament and Early Christian Literature, will explore a variety of questions around the art of lecturing.  Profs. Najman and Mitchell, both seasoned lecturers, will offer reflections on their experiences lecturing in different pedagogical settings, after which we will open up the floor for group discussion.  Cosponsored by the Early Christian Studies Workshop, the Hebrew Bible Workshop, and the Bible Area Club.

Helping Students Cope with Pluralism and Criticism in the Classroom

Friday, February 28th from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 201

For many students, college may be their first exposure to critical reflection on sacred and deeply formative beliefs and practices.  Moreover, they may be asked to consider, with seriousness and open-ended inquiry, beliefs and interpretations that they view as dangerous or blasphemous.  The experience of a pluralist community in college - one that in particular is devoted to critical engagement across boundaries of tradition and belief - can be intimidating and unsettling for some.  In this session, a panel of faculty and graduate student teachers will discuss how teachers can facilitate students' acclimation to pluralism and criticism in the classroom. With examples of pitfalls and "hot moments", we will discuss how best to respond as our students cope with religious, political, and other differences in the college classroom.  Panelists will include Allison Gray, PhD student in New Testament and Early Christian Literature and adjunct instructor at Dominican University, 
Tim Hiller, PhD student in Theology at the University of Chicago and Martin Marty Junior Fellow, Charles Huff, PhD student in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Adam Kotsko, Assistant Professor of Humanities, Shimer College.  Presented by the Theology Workshop.

Beyond Content: What Does It Mean to Think Like a Medievalist?

Friday, March 7 from 12:00-1:30pm in Wieboldt 207

Prof. Leah Shopkow, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Indiana University, is the Principal Investigator and co-Director of the pioneering History Learning Project. The History Learning Project applies the concept of  Decoding the Disciplines to history pedagogy, identifying and overcoming bottlenecks to disciplinary learning.  An article about the History Learning Project in the Journal of American History, co-authored by Prof. Shopkow, won the McGraw-Hill/Magna Publications Publication in Teaching and Learning Award in 2009. The principles discussed in this workshop will be readily transferable to all of the Divinity School's areas of study.  Don't miss this special opportunity to learn more this important pedagogical approach!  Presented by the Medieval Studies Workshop.

Dean's Winter Craft of Teaching Seminar with Prof. Contance Furey

Friday, March 14 from 12:00-2:00PM in the Swift Common Room

Led by Divinity School alumna Constance Furey (PhD, History of Christianity, 2000), Associate Professor and Associate Department Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University.   Professor Furey is a two-time recipient of the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award (2004, 2009) and author of Erasmus, Contarini, and the Religious Republic of Letters (Cambridge, 2006).  She is presently at work on a book project entitled, Crowded Interiors: Sacred Selves and Relationships in English Renaissance Poetry, focusing on how devotional poetry by both male and female writers in the English Renaissance re-imagined intimate relationships as sites of utopian longing and fulfillment.  Prof. Furey will discuss her approaches to religious studies pedagogy, particularly in relationship to her classes "Sex and Gender in the Reformation" and "Reformation: Body and the Word".  Syllabi for these courses will soon be available for download here.   Complimentary lunch will be provided for the first 25 RSVPs.  Please RSVP to, indicating meat, vegetarian, or vegan preferences.  

The pre-reading packet for Prof. Furey's seminar is available here.

Fall 2013

Workshop on Teaching in the College (CTL)

September 25–26

A two-day program of the Center for Teaching and Learning open to graduate students in all divisions and featuring sessions on a variety of pedagogy topics.  Deadline to sign up is Sept. 15.  See the CTL website for additional information and to register.  Note:  Those pursuing the Divinity School's Craft of Teaching Certificate must attend the CTL's Workshop on Teaching and complete a workshop journal.  Please refer to the Craft of Teaching program requirements.

Jewish Studies as Field Not a Discipline: Pedagogical Reflections

Tuesday, October 8 at 7:30 PM at the home of Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr

Facilitated by Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr, Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor of Modern Jewish History and Thought in the Divinity School. Please RSVP to Ori Werdiger (  Light refreshments served.  Presented by the Jewish Studies workshop. 

Approaches to the Introductory Course in Religious Studies

Wednesday, October 9 from 4:30-6:00PM in Swift 201

Led by Professors Lucy Pick, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity, and Richard Rosengarten,  Associate Professor of Religion and Literature.  The "Introduction to Religious Studies" course is a cornerstone of most Religious Studies majors, but a review of any syllabus collection will show that there are numerous ways to approach it.  Listen to Professors Rosengarten and Pick discuss the syllabi they created for "RLST 10100: Introduction to Religious Studies" at the College at the University of Chicago. They will discuss how they organized their courses and why, what they included and what they left out, and what worked and what didn't.  

Syllabi for discussion may be downloaded here and here.

Pedagogy Brown Bag

Friday, October 18 from 12:00-1:00 PM in Swift 403

Bring a lunch, grab some complimentary coffee and tea, and come talk teaching with fellow Divinity School students!  This informal BYOL conversation will have no particular agenda other than providing a forum to discuss your classroom successes and frustrations, bouncing ideas off one another, sharing assignments and classroom materials, and, of course, eating and drinking.  (Although these discussions do not count toward the Craft of Teaching requirements, we hope they will further foster our learning community around issues of pedagogy--and caffeinate your afternoons!)

Dean's Quarterly Craft of Teaching Seminar with Prof. Nelson Tebbe

Friday, November 8 from 12:00-2:00 PM in the Swift Common Room

CT - Tebbe.jpg

Led by Divinity School alumnus Nelson Tebbe (PhD, Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, 2006), Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School.  Prof. Tebbe's scholarship focuses on the relationship between religious traditions and constitutional law, both in the United States and abroad, and is a regular commentator in the media on religious freedom.  He is also a past recipient of the Dean's Teaching Award at St. John's School of Law.  Prof. Tebbe will introduce and discuss his courses and teaching strategies at Brooklyn Law School.  Divinity School students will be especially interested to learn how Prof. Tebbe's dual specializations and disciplinary trainings are integrated in his teaching, and what teachers of religion practicing their craft in other contexts can learn from the best practices of signature law school pedagogies.   Complimentary lunch will be provided for the first 25 RSVPs.  Please RSVP at any time to, indicating meat, vegetarian, or vegan preferences.

Click here to watch Prof. Tebbe discuss his pedagogy.

Prof. Tebbe's syllabus is available for download here.

Teaching Religious Law in an Age of Sensation

Thursday, November 14 from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 106

How do both Western pedagogical norms and current events shape how teachers of Islamic history and law present their subject to their students?  This special session will feature a conversation with Professor Ahmed El Shamsy, Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at the University of Chicago.  Recent controversies have contributed to the rise in interest in Islamic law, but these are also part of a long interaction of different legal traditions in their postcolonial encounter.  Teaching about this legacy, of which Western universities are an imminent part, will the subject of this conversation, and all those interested in how current political events affect teaching and scholarship will want to attend.  Presented by the Islamic Studies Workshop.

Teaching Religion and Literature, Women's Studies, and Asian Religions

Friday, November 15 from 12:00-2:00 PM in Swift 201

Divinity School alumna Zhange Ni (PhD, Religion and Literature, 2009), Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech and formerly Research Associate and Visiting Assistant Professor at the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, will present and discuss teaching materials from her classes on religion and literature, women's studies, and Asian religions.  Presented by the Religion and Literature Club.

Syllabi for this session can be downloaded here and here.

Writing Good Recommendation Letters for Your Students

Thursday, December 5 from 12:00-1:30 PM in Swift 208

This workshop, led by Catherine Brekus, Professor in Religions in America and the History of Christianity, and Jeffrey Stackert, Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, will help graduate students learn how to write good letters of recommendation for their undergraduates.  Among other topics, we will discuss what information should be included in a recommendation letter and how to avoid implicit gender and/or racial bias.  Feel free to bring a lunch.  The reading packet of articles (available here) and sample letters (available here) should be read by participants in advance of the workshop.   


Spring 2013

Capstone Reflections on the Teaching Assistant Experience

Friday, June 7, 3:00-4:30 PM in Swift 201

This event is intended for Divinity School graduate students who served as teaching assistants or writing interns during the 2012-13 academic year.  The session, facilitated by Prof. Richard Rosengarten, will provide a forum in which attendees can reflect upon their experience as TAs. Prof. Rosengarten will make a brief presentation on the practice of pedagogical self-assessment that will aim to help you evaluate your own teaching, identify your emerging competencies as an educator, and build upon your TA experience in your future teaching. The bulk of the session will be an exercise in self-evaluation. There will also be an opportunity to provide feedback on how the Divinity School can better support its teaching assistants.

Teaching the Bible in Diverse Classrooms

Tuesday, June 4 from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 201

The Bible continues to be one of the world's most read and taught texts.  However, in a classroom of students who come from diverse religious/cultural backgrounds and hold different and often conflicting views about the Bible, how does an instructor get everyone on the same page in order to talk about the bible in a productive way?  This is a challenge whether you are teaching a course that addresses the Bible primarily or peripherally.  Join panelists Prof. Simeon Chavel, Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, Prof. Lucy Pick, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity, and Allison Gray, PhD student in New Testament and Early Christian Literature, for a lively and informative discussion.  Presented by the Hebrew Bible Workshop and the Bible Club.

Workshop on Syllabus Design: Goals and Assignments for NT Intro Courses

Thursday, May 16th from 12:00-1:30pm in Swift 106

This workshop will continue the discussion started in the fall's "Teaching Introduction to the New Testament", which focused on articulating student-oriented course goals for a NT intro course, although attendance at that event is not a prerequisite. At this meeting, we will look at (pre-circulated) syllabi that have been used to teach NT intro courses and hear from the instructors. What kinds of assignments proved most effective in meeting the learning goals for the course? What would the instructor change before teaching the class again?

The majority of our time will then be spent working in groups on our own draft syllabi, brainstorming how we can use a variety of assignments to help students meet the course learning goals. We invite you to come prepared to share a course map for a hypothetical NT intro course, consisting of 3 course learning goals and a skeletal outline of possible assignments and readings. Bring it along to consult with your colleagues and get helpful feedback! (Even if you don't have time to prepare draft materials, please join us for the discussion.) You are welcome to bring a lunch to the meeting.

Rethinking “Dead” Language Instruction: Ancient Languages and Modern Language Pedagogy

Friday, May 10th at 12:30-2:00PM  Swift 208.

There is a widely accepted notion that teachers of ancient and so-called “dead” languages face a set of challenges distinct from that of modern language teachers, with different goals and approaches. The purpose of this workshop is to reconsider this notion.  We'll be asking such questions as: What goals do we have in mind for our language students, and how successful are we in guiding them to these goals? What assumptions underlie the usual approaches to teaching ancient languages? What aspects of modern language instruction might we fruitfully incorporate into our teaching?  Although Latin will be a focus of the presentation, this workshop is designed to benefit all teachers of ancient languages. 

Led by Alex Lee, an advanced PhD student in the Department of Classics, University of Chicago. During his several years of teaching Latin and Greek at the university, he has developed a passion for language pedagogy. He is very interested in language acquisition theory and has experience with alternative methods of language instruction. Co-sponsored by the Department of Classics. Optional readings will be available for download in advance (link forthcoming). Pizza will be provided.

Spring Craft of Teaching Seminar

Thursday, May 2, 2013, from 12:00-1:30 PM, Swift Common Room

Led by the 2013 Divinity School alumnus of the year, Prof. Michael Kinnamon (AM 1976, Ph.D. 1980), presently Spehar-Halligan Visiting Professor of Ecumenical Collaboration in Interreligious Dialogue at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry. Prof. Kinnamon will introduce and discuss a course he has designed and taught, the decisions that went into its design, and some of its outcomes.



2013 Teaching at Public Research Universities Conference

Friday, April 26


Sponsored by Deputy Provost for Graduate Education, the Teaching at Public Research Universities Conference is part of an annual University of Chicago graduate student conference series that focuses on teaching at different types of institutions. This year's conference will address how to develop teaching, research, and other professional skills to succeed on the faculty at a public research university. The panel will feature Divinity School alumna (History of Religions) Prof. Elizabeth Wilson, Professor in the Department of Comparative Religion, and Affiliate in the Women's Studies Program as well as the Asian and Asian American Studies Program, Miami University of Ohio.

Pedagogy Discussion with Professor James T. Robinson

Friday, April 19 at 9:30 AM in Swift 106

The Islamic Studies Club (aka, Majlis) invites you to discuss pedagogy with Professor James T. Robinson. He will discuss his thought process in the envisioning of a course and the creation of a syllabus, as well as his general pedagogical approach to courses related to Islamic Studies.

From Here to There: The Transition to the First Years of Teaching

Friday, April 12, 3:30-5:30 PM in the Swift 3rd Floor Lecture Hall


What are the biggest challenges you will face as you move from graduate education to full-time teaching? What should you be doing now to ensure you will thrive in your first years as a teacher-scholar?

As part of the Divinity School's participation in the Wabash Center's Graduate Programs Teaching Initiative, we invite you to a panel discussion featuring ten recent Divinity School alums representing a wide range of institutions and areas of study. Moderated by the Wabash Center's Eugene Gallagher (PhD, '80) and Dean Margaret Mitchell, the event will include opportunities for Q & A, and all will be invited to continue our conversation at a reception immediately following.



Winter 2013

Divinity School Syllabus Workshop

Friday, March 8, 12–3PM in Swift 200

Led by Prof. Lucy Pick, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity.  This annual three-hour workshop centers on course and syllabus design.  Participants draft course titles and descriptions that are peer-reviewed during the workshop.

Winter Craft of Teaching Seminar with Jonathan Z. Smith

Wednesday, February 27, from 4:30–6:00 PM in Swift Common Room

Led by Prof. Jonathan Z. Smith, Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor of the Humanities, Associate Faculty in the Divinity School, and author of a forthcoming collection of essays entitled On Teaching Religion: Essays by Jonathan Z. Smith (edited by Christopher Lehrich; Oxford UP). Prof. Smith discussed his pedagogy in relation to a course he has taught at the University. Readings for the seminar can be downloaded here and here.

Pedagogy and Embodiment

Thursday, February 14th, 4:30–6PM, Swift 106

The Theology Workshop welcomes Prof. Kristine Culp, Associate Professor of Theology and Dean of Disciples Divinity House, Prof. Jeffrey Stackert, Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, and Cynthia Lindner, Director of Ministry Studies and Clinical Faculty for Preaching and Pastoral Care, to reflect on their own experiences and best practices for creating classroom cultures and environments that intentionally honor the body as a constitutive part of being human. All are invited to join our panelists in wrestling with such questions as: How can teachers use their own embodied presence in the classroom—and the embodied presences of their students—to deepen and inflect learning? What kinds of pedagogical practices work to unveil and dismantle oppressions in the classroom that silence or privilege certain embodied experiences? How can existing structures with which bodies may be at odds—physical space, institutional culture—be shifted, challenged, or named in order to create an academic space where bodies are not something to be overcome or managed, but to be received with hospitality as essential parts of human life and even scholarly inquiry?

Discussion of Teaching Islam

Friday, February 8 at 9:30 a.m. in Swift 106

The Islamic Studies Club (AKA Div Majlis) invites you to discuss selections from the book Teaching Islam (ed. Brannon Wheeler).

A Conversation on Pedagogy with Prof. Dan Arnold

Wed., Feb. 6th, 4:30–6 Swift 208

Featuring reflections by and conversation with Prof. Dan Arnold, Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School. Presented by the Philosophy of Religions Club.

Information Session on Teaching at the Graham School

Friday, Feb. 1, 12–1:30PM, Swift Common Room

Prof. Wendy Doniger and Cary Nathansen, Associate Dean in the Graham School, will talk about designing continuing education courses and teaching in the Graham School. 

A Discussion on Contemplative Pedagogy with Professor Jennifer Oldstone-Moore

Thursday, January 24th, 12–1:30 pm, Swift Room 106

oldstone-mooreFeaturing Divinity School alumna Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, Associate Professor of Religion at Wittenberg University.  Specializing in Chinese religious traditions, Professor Oldstone-Moore teaches courses in Chinese and Japanese Religion, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Religion and Literature in East Asia, among others. Her work was recently featured at a conference of The Association of Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. Professor Oldstone-Moore's presentation will consider ways in which contemplative practice might serve as a resource for teachers of religion.  Presented by the Religion and Literature Club.

The Educator as Mentor: A conversation between Prof. Kevin Hector and Prof. Jeffery Stout

Friday January 11th, from 12–1:30 pm. Swift Hall Common Room

The Religion and Ethics Workshop present Profs. Kevin Hector and Jeffrey Stout, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, in a conversation about the role of the educator as mentor. Presented by the Religion and Ethics Workshop


Autumn 2012

Teaching Introduction to the New Testament

Monday, November 26, 4:30–5:30PM Swift 208

A discussion of the aims and course designs of introductions to the New Testament in different institutional contexts, facilitated by Brandon Cline, PhD candidate in New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Program Coordinator for the Craft of Teaching.  Presented by the Early Christian Studies Workshop and the Bible Club.

Pedagogical Problems: Teaching Religion and the Danger of Becoming "Don Juan of Myths"

Thursday November 15th, 4:30–6 in Swift 200

Discussion with Prof. Charles Matthewes, Divinity School alumnus and Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion at the University of Virginia.

The Teaching of Jewish Studies: Theoretical and Pedagogical Reflections

Monday, November 12 at 7:30PM at the home of Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr

Facilitated by Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr, Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor of Modern Jewish History and Thought in the Divinity School. RSVP required. Please RSVP to Sam Shonkoff (  Presented by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

Teaching Religion in the Internet Age: Electronic Resources in the Religious Studies Classroom

Thursday, November 1, 3:00–4:30PM Regenstein 207

Facilitated by Divinity School alumna Dr. Anne Knafl (Ph.D. 2011), Bibliographer for Religion and Philosophy, University of Chicago.

Fall Craft of Teaching Seminar  with Prof. Rebecca Raphael

Friday, October 26 from 12–2PM in Swift Common Room


Led by Divinity School alumna Prof. Rebecca Raphael (Ph.D. 1997), Associate Professor of Philosophy and Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities at Texas State University-San Marcos.  Prof. Raphael will discuss her NEH grant project on the study of religion in humanistic curricula and engage in conversation on her design and teaching of recent two courses.  Materials for discussion may be downloaded here.



Workshop on Teaching in the College (CTL)

September 25–26

A two-day program of the Center for Teaching and Learning open to graduate students in all divisions and featuring sessions on a variety of pedagogy topics.  See the CTL website for additional information.  Note:  Those seeking to complete the Craft of Teaching Program must attend the Workshop on Teaching and complete a workshop journal.  Please refer to the Craft of Teaching Program requirements.

2011–12 Programs

Winter Craft of Teaching Seminar with Prof. M. Cooper Harris

Friday, January 30 from 4:30PM–6PM in Swift 200

M. Cooper Harriss, Ph.D. 2011 (Religion and Literature), Instructor and Visiting Professor of Race and Religion, Department of Religion and Culture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Virginia). Professor Harriss offers courses in American and African-American religious traditions, religion and modernity, and religion and literature.

Spring Craft of Teaching Seminar with Prof. Anne Taves

Thursday, May 3 from 12–2PM in the Swift Common Room

Led by Prof. Ann Taves, A.M. 1979, Ph.D. 1983 (History of Christianity), Virgil Cordano, OFM, Professor of Catholic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Divinity School's Alumna of the Year for 2012. Prof. Taves teaches courses that focus specifically on Catholic history and practice as well as courses that examine Catholic history and practice alongside other traditions. Her undergraduate courses are structured around questions in the study of religion that can be addressed from both the perspectives of the humanities and the sciences, e.g.: How and to what extent do religious or spiritual practices transform people? What happens to a tradition when it is transmitted from one cultural context to another? How do people know or decide if an event or experience should be attributed to a supernatural source?