• Dean Margaret M. Mitchell and Rebecca Raphael (PhD'97) at a Dean's Craft of Teaching Seminar.

Craft of Teaching Multimedia Library

You can watch or listen to many Craft of Teaching events in our multimedia library.  We are continually adding new content, so visit frequently for additional programs on religious studies pedagogy.

Spring 2015

Introducing Religion: A Swift Hall Colloquium

Friday, May 1 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the 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 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. 

Prof. Kevin Hector, on Ernst Troeltsch, “The Absoluteness of Christianity and the History of Religions"
Prof. Sarah Hammerschlag, on Franz Kafka, “Before the Law” 
Prof. Richard Rosengarten, on George Herbert, “Love (III)” 
Prof. Margaret Mitchell, on The Abercius Inscription 
Prof. Jas Elsner on The C6 Beth Alpha Synagogue Floor Mosaic
Prof. Wendy Doniger, on Selection of Hindu Texts: Cosmogonic, Devotional, and Political
Prof. Dan Arnold, on Huntington & Wangchen, “The Emptiness of Emptiness”

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.




Teaching Religious Pasts: Making Historical Studies Transformational and Motivational (with the Theology & Religious Ethics Workshop)

Monday, April 13, 4:00-5:30 pm, Swift 208

 Amy Nelson Burnett the Paula and D.B. Varner University Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, discusses how she has used recent scholarship on teaching and learning (known as SoTL) to change the ways she teaches Christian history and thought more generally, and the courses on Reformation in particular, in the context of a large public University.  In the course of the session, we identify pedagogical practices encouraging the development of intellectual skills and bringing about a transformative understanding of religious past, so that students can see that the study of histories is both practical and relevant.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

The Art of the Approach: Negotiating Hard Choices in Introductory Course Design

Monday, April 6, 4:30-6:00 pm, Swift 208

Taking seriously Jonathan Z. Smith’s much quoted line: “there is nothing that must be taught, there is nothing that cannot be left out,” this workshop with Russell McCutcheon, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama,  focuses on the choices an instructor makes in designing and teaching an introductory course in the academic study of religion. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Winter 2015

Teaching the Undergraduate Research Paper (Arts of Teaching Series)

Monday, February 16 from 12:00-1:30 PM in Swift 201

library-stacks-researchTeaching the research paper begins with understanding the tacit skills and knowledge needed for novice learners to move from passive reading to active engagement with sources. The difficulty for the instructor rests in being able to identify and then teach these to students of varying interests and abilities. Anne Knafl (PhD, Bible, 2011), Bibliographer for Religion and Philosophy, and David Frankel, PhD student in History of Judaism and Library Intern, will discuss strategies for teaching the research paper, drawing on their experience collecting, evaluating and teaching scholarly materials at the Regenstein Library. This workshop will address not only the how but the why of assigning research: Why should students write research papers? Do they know? Do you know? Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.



Dean's Winter Craft of Teaching Seminar with Chancellor Rebecca Chopp

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.




Curricula and Criticism in Religious Studies: Notes from the Institutional Field

Friday, February 6, from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM in Swift 208

Led by Professor Brian Britt (MA 1987, PhD, Religion and Literature, 1992), Chair of the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech.  Professor Britt will discuss some key elements of Religious Studies curricula and departments, with a focus on the challenging transition from graduate student teacher to faculty member. The workshop is intended to help participants understand and articulate how their teaching fits into wider departmental and institutional contours, and to develop language and tools for negotiating disciplinary (and interdisciplinary) expectations in the field of Religious Studies.  Co-sponsored with the Religion and Literature Club. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Designing Assessments That Cultivate Rigorous Creativity (Arts of Teaching Series)

Wednesday, January 28 from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 201

escher-hands-drawing-handsIn this Arts of Teaching sequel to “Cultivating Rigorous Creativity” (Fall 2014), participants will design and workshop a sample assessment that cultivates creative as well as critical thinking.  (Participants who did not attend Mr. Maxwell's fall workshop should view it in our multimedia library in advance.)  In preparation for this workshop, all participants will read and annotate a text of their own choosing and then design a prompt, model, and rubric for an assignment on the chosen text.  During the workshop, participants will examine the assignments to determine their effectiveness.  Each participant will leave the workshop with a polished assessment that demands rigorous creative thinking. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.


How to Choose a Textbook, or, Why I Wrote My Own

Monday, January 12 from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 200

Dale Walker, Beyond the ObviousLed by Dale Walker (PhD, 1998), Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the Divinity School and author of a recent book for use in introductory courses on the New Testament (Beyond the Obvious: Doorways to Understanding the New Testament [Anselm Academic, 2014]). Dr. Walker's "textbook" takes a different approach from most others, seeking to be briefer, topical, and synthetic, as opposed to exhaustive, book-by-book, and atomizing. Its aim is to orient readers to biblical criticism rather than walk them through every issue, and it prioritizes the preparation of students for productive discussion in class. This approach incorporates recent research on student learning and on making knowledge sticky. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.




Autumn 2014

Teaching with Fiction

Monday, November 3 from 12:00-1:30 PM in Swift 201

Fiction can be an invaluable classroom resource even for those whose specialty is not Religion and Literature.  Lucy Pick, Senior Lecturer in the Divinity School, Director of the Religious Studies major, and author of the novel Pilgrimage , and Noah Toly, Associate Professor of Politics & International Relations at Wheaton College and former Senior Fellow at the Marty Center (2012-2013), will discuss why and how to use fiction in the religious studies classroom. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Dean's Fall Craft of Teaching Seminar with Joanne Maguire Robinson ("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.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Cultivating Rigorous Creativity in Your Students

Wednesday, October 15 from 4:00 - 5:30 PM in Swift 201

Too often in academia we think of creativity as a frivolous thing, but there is nothing frivolous about it.  It is a rigorous intellectual process of synthesis that goes beyond critical thinking and analysis.  Participants will be encouraged to design assessments that demand rigorous creative thinking from their students.  Featuring Mark Maxwell, English and Fine Arts, Rolling Meadows High School.  Mr. Maxwell is the author of the novel Nixoncarver (St. Martin's Press) and several short stories, and many of his students have gone on to publish their own creative writing.  Presented by Kevin Hector, Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy of Religions. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Workshop on Public Speaking

Thursday, October 2, 2014, Swift Third Floor Lecture Hall

Scientific research, as well as our common experience, indicates that how we communicate often has a much greater impact on audiences than the content of our message.  The skills of public communication are therefore of vital importance to the work of future teachers and scholars.  This interactive workshop will present the fundamental concepts of public speaking and provide practical advice for using our body and voice to communicate information more effectively and to connect with audiences.  Led by Seth Patterson, MFA, a professional theater artist and current M.Div. student who has worked with individuals and groups at the Divinity School, Booth School, Social Sciences Division, and GSA. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Spring 2014

Teaching Philosophy of Religions: A Conversation with Prof. Brook Ziporyn

Wednesday, May 28 from 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 201

Join the Philosophy of Religions Club for a conversation with new faculty member Prof. Brook Ziporyn on the peculiarities and challenges of teaching Philosophy of Religions. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.  

Demystifying Dissertation Writing and New Faculty Success: A Full-Day Workshop

Friday, May 9 from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM, Third Floor Lecture Hall, Swift Hall

CT - PegBoyleSinglePix.jpgCT _ Demystifying.jpgDr. Peg Boyle Single, author of Demystifying Dissertation Writing, is a social psychologist and academic writing coach with over twenty years experience working with faculty members and doctoral students. During this time, Dr. Single has developed a system that demystifies academic  writing and new faculty success, helping thousands of doctoral students and faculty members across disciplines increase their writing fluency, productivity, and enjoyment.  Dr. Single presents proven, practical advice on academic writing with healthy doses of humor and encouragement.  This full-day program will consist of two workshops:

Demystifying Dissertation Writing

In this workshop, Dr. Single will help you overcome the barriers to becoming a fluent, constant, and happy dissertation writer.  You will learn about and acquire the daily habits for sustaining your writing, finishing your dissertation, and setting out on a successful career of academic writing.  Whether you're just starting the dissertation process or nearing its end, you will gain invaluable insights and learn practical steps to speed you on your way to writing fluency.

Demystifying New Faculty Success

Too rarely are graduate students prepared for the demands of academic life. They are elated to accept their first academic positions, only to be surprised and overwhelmed by the avalanche of teaching, teaching preparation, research, writing, college meetings, campus-wide committee assignments, advising, student counseling, and departmental politics.  In this workshop, Dr. Single will draw on her experience directing new faculty mentoring programs, facilitating writing groups, and offering retention and tenure trainings to provide advice and direction on finding balance as a new faculty member. 

Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Course Design Workshop with Prof. Thomas Tweed

Monday, May 5 from 4:30-6:00 PM, Swift 106

CT - tweed_photo.jpgProfessor Thomas Tweed, Harold and Martha Welch Endowed Chair in American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, will discuss his approach to course design in relation to his undergraduate class, "What is Pilgrimage? Exploring the Boundary between the Religious and the Secular".  Prof. Tweed will address such topics as choosing and organizing course readings, student participation, incorporation of theory, and class assignments.   This workshop will be of interest to students in all areas of the Divinity School.   Presented by the American Religious History Workshop. Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

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.

Winter 2014

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

Friday, March 14, 2014

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.  The pre-reading packet for Prof. Furey's seminar is available here.   Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

The Art of Lecturing

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Autumn 2014

Teaching Islamic Studies in the Liberal Arts 

Thursday, December 11, 12:00-1:30PM in Swift 201

The Islamic Studies Workshop presents Lauren Osborne (PhD, Islamic Studies, 2014), Assistant Professor of Religion at Whitman College.  In addition to her teaching at Whitman, Prof. Osborne has taught at Carleton College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  In this workshop, Prof. Osborne discusses her experiences creating and teaching Islamic Studies courses within the liberal arts disciplines as well as at liberal arts colleges.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Writing Good Recommendation Letters for Your Students

Thursday, December 5, 2014

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.  A reading packet of articles (available here) and sample letters (available here) was read by participants in advance of the workshop.   Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Winter 2014

Teaching the Bible with Technology

January 28, 2014

This workshop focuses on teaching the Bible--its texts, languages, and history--with technology, covering a range of approaches from online resources to online teaching.  Features 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.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Authority in the Classroom

January 27, 2014

Professor Sarah Hammerschlag, Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature at the Divinity School, lead 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.  Presented by the Religion and Literature Club.   Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Autumn 2013

Dean's Quarterly Craft of Teaching Seminar with Prof. Nelson Tebbe (Fall 2013)

November 8, 2013

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.   Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

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

Approaches to the Introductory Course in Religious Studies

October 9, 2013

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 discuss how they organized their courses and why, what they included and what they left out, and what worked and what didn't.   Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Syllabi references in the discussion may be downloaded here and here.

Spring 2013

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

Friday, May 10, 2013

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.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

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. 

Spring Craft of Teaching Seminar

Thursday, May 2, 2013

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.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Winter 2013

Dean's Quarterly 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.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Pedagogy and Embodiment

February 14, 2013

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?  This video stream contains audio only.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Autumn 2012

Dean's Quarterly Craft of Teaching Seminar with Rebecca Raphael

October 26, 2012


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 discusses the design and teaching of recent two courses, "Apocalypticism" and "Mythology, Science, and Creation".  This video stream contains audio only.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.



Spring 2012

Dean's Quarterly Craft of Teaching Seminar with Anne Taves (Spring 2012)

May 3, 2012


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?  This video stream contains audio only.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.

Winter 2012

Dean's Quarterly Craft of Teaching Seminar with M. Cooper Harris (Winter 2012)

January 30, 2012

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.  This video stream contains audio only.  Click here to download mp3 audio of this event.