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, invited guests, and an extensive alumni network of decorated teachers to share strategies, develop skills, and advance critical reflection relating to religious studies pedagogy. Find out more here, or browse our program schedule and multimedia library.

  • The Craft of Teaching has its first publication!

Hearty congratulations to the graduate student Craft of Teaching participants who have been featured in a co-authored publication in the most recent volume of Teaching Theology and Religion! After the Spring 2015 workshop, "The Art of the Approach: Negotiating Hard Choices in Introductory Course Design," Prof. Russell McCutcheon, our guest for the workshop, invited four Divinity School graduate students to respond to the essay version of his presentation and collaborate on a forum-style submission to the journal. The publication, entitled "Crafting the Introductory Course in Religious Studies," consists of Prof. McCutcheon's essay, the four Divinity School responses (by Andrew Durdin, Kelli Gardner, Adam Miller, and Emily Crews), and an introduction by Aaron Hollander, Program Coordinator for the Craft of Teaching. Download the publication from the journal here and we'll keep you apprised of further interventions in the field of religious studies pedagogy by Craft of Teaching participants.

  • The Winter 2016 schedule is live.

Check out the schedule here. Don't forget that additional information and links to session-relevant resources will continue to be added throughout the quarter.

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For the 2015-2016 academic year, five recent University of Chicago Divinity graduates have been invited to provide their unique insights as new faculty members. Our Bloggers in Virtual Residence will be engaging with some of the topics addressed by this year's CoT programming and discussing some of their own personal successes and failures.

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

Crafting the Conditions for Student Motivation [Arts of Teaching]

Wednesday, February 10, 9:00-10:30 am, Swift 200


The finest teachers can find their educational efforts thwarted by unmotivated students.  Unquestionably, many factors in students’ lives contribute to their motivation or lack thereof, but teachers may not know about them, or be able to address them.  Yet teachers are not powerless in the classroom when it comes to establishing an environment in which motivation—motivation to engage with content, with peers, and with the skills and goals of liberal education—is cultivated and continually reinforced.

In this workshop, led by Kathy Cochran, Associate Director of the University of Chicago Writing Program, we will examine the nature of specific problems around students’ motivation and consider available strategies to animate rather than enervate their commitment. Although such problems and solutions vary between disciplines and institutional contexts, we will look especially at the effects on pedagogy of language, in writing and speaking.  Questions we might consider include: how might instructors use language in writing and speaking to motivate?  How might students be motivated to write or speak, or through opportunities to write or speak?

In advance of this workshop, participants are invited to submit to Kathy (or to bring to the session) some selection of text that you have used or might use with students to instruct, guide, assign, explain, or prompt them.  (Include a sketch of the goals for the course, actual or hypothetical). For instance, you might submit a paper prompt, a syllabus (or part of it, such as a class requirement), a paper comment, feedback on a reading response, an in-class group assignment, etc.We will discuss these examples as well as your stories of particularly motivating or demotivating moments you have observed in class discussion. Please submit your example(s) by the end of the day Monday, February 8th if you can.
Never fear--coffee, tea, and even some light breakfast fare will be available at the workshop!

Syllabus Workshop: Teaching Islamic Studies Across the Institutional Field (with the Islamic Studies Workshop)

Friday, February 19, 12:00-2:00 pm, Swift 106

This session is a panel discussion on syllabus design of introductory-level courses in relation to student audience: how do pedagogical approaches to the same material shift in relation to institutional contexts?  Lauren OsborneMun'im Sirry, and Jawad Qureshi, all doctoral graduates or candidates of the Islamic Studies program at the Divinity School, will share representative syllabi and discuss teaching strategies based on their experiences with graduate and undergraduate students in research universities, religiously affiliated institutions, and liberal arts colleges.  

Mun'im Sirry is Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He earned his PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School (2012). His writings include Scriptural Polemics: the Qur’ān and Other Religions (Oxford, 2014).

Lauren E. Osborne completed her PhD in the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2015 and is now Assistant Professor of Religion at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.

Jawad Anwar Qureshi is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American Islamic College. He is a doctoral candidate in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School.

This session is co-sponsored with the Islamic Studies Workshop.

See our full lineup here

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