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!

Flipping the Classroom: How Online Resources Enable Pedagogical Innovation

Tuesday, May 12, 12:00-1:30, Swift 106

Led by Christine Hayes (Yale University). The classic frontal lecture aimed at delivering content in real time is the mainstay of many university courses. How might classroom instruction be reimagined when content is delivered through online lectures in virtual time? This workshop explores the changing role of the instructor and the transformation of the classroom from lecture hall to learning laboratory in the digital age.

Participants will experience a simulated "flipped classroom" from the perspective of the students. In advance of this workshop, please watch the (50-minute) video lecture at http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/rlst-145/lecture-20.

Coffee will be available; please feel free to bring lunch.

Christine Hayes is Robert F. and Patricia R. Weis Professor of Religious Studies in Classical Judaica. Before joining the Yale faculty in 1996, she was Assistant Professor of Hebrew Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University for three years. Her published works include several books and many articles in Vetus Testamentum, The Journal for the Study of Judaism, The Harvard Theological Review, and various scholarly anthologies. Her first book, entitled Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds (Oxford University Press, 1997) was honored with a Salo Baron prize for a first book in Jewish thought and literature, awarded by the American Academy for Jewish Research (1999).

Teaching on the Page: Fine-Tuning Feedback on Student Writing Assignments [Arts of Teaching] 

Monday, May 18, 4:30-6:00, Swift 200 (note change in location)

Led by Tracy Weiner (University of Chicago Writing Program). Teachers of the humanities and social sciences make extensive use of writing assignments to assess student learning, but many consider the assignment to be complete once it has been handed in and graded. The teaching process continues, however, in the feedback we give on writing assignments: in marginal comments, in stylistic encouragement and dissuasion, and in summary discussions of the assignment’s effectiveness in light of course goals and content. In this workshop, participants will learn and practice strategies for continuing to teach, and to teach effectively, in the process of responding to student written work.

In advance of this workshop, please complete a short exercise provided by the Writing Program (download here). The exercise involves reading, commenting on, and grading a piece of student writing from the first-year Humanities course "Human Being & Citizen." 

Tracy Weiner is an Associate Director of the University of Chicago Writing Program. 

Spring Microteaching Workshop: Square One [Arts of Teaching] 

Friday, June 5, 9:30am-12:30pm, Swift 208

Microteaching is organized practice teaching in a supportive, low-risk environment.  Participants will teach a short lesson to a small group of peers and receive detailed feedback (including self-assessment based on video-recording) on their teaching strategy and performance. This Spring’s microteaching workshop provides a capstone opportunity to this quarter’s running theme of the introductory course in Religious Studies. Participants will design and practice teaching the first ten minutes of an Introduction to Religion (or equivalent course) in a specific institutional context. Participants will not only practice techniques of effective delivery, but will also gain a deeper understanding of the he special problems and opportunities of providing an initial framework not only for an intro level course but also for an entire field of inquiry. What choices must be made? What potential liabilities must be accounted for? How to draw students in and set them up most effectively to approach the course as you will curate it?

The workshop will be facilitated by Professor Sarah Hammerschlag, Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature, also in the College; and Aaron Hollander, Craft of Teaching Program Coordinator. Participation is strictly limited and advanced registration is required.

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