Craft of Teaching Program

In 2012 an idea generated by the faculty received a leadership gift from the Colman Foundation, enabling the Divinity School to launch its craft of teaching curriculum, which prepares students to teach in the broad array of institutions the world over. An innovative idea within graduate education, the program ensures that Divinity School students develop a facility for teaching and public communication that matches their reputation for scholarship.

The Craft of Teaching seamlessly interweaves a commitment to preparing outstanding educators in the field of religious studies into the experience of graduate education at Swift Hall. More than 25 events a year, including skills training, seminars, and workshops, sustain a vigorous conversation about how to teach religious studies. One session might teach students about designing courses, while another might provide hands-on opportunities for teaching and evaluation. The offerings are structured to give students the kind of advice, reflection, and experiences that will foster their development as good teachers. Participants accumulate credits that lead to a certificate documenting their professional attainments.

The program puts students in conversation with some of the most influential educators in religious studies. These include faculty from the Divinity School and elsewhere, including our seasoned alumni who teach in all manner of institutions (private research universities, state universities, liberal arts colleges, religiously affiliated schools, and seminaries) and make a huge impact on how religious studies is taught today. They provide a rich network filled with experienced and savvy teachers eager to help. The result is a robust and changing array of pedagogy-related programs for our students.

The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact presents an opportunity to increase the endowment for Craft of Teaching to $2 million. At full funding the program will become a regular and normal part of our students’ education and benefit the larger student body at the University. As the program develops, focus will expand from pedagogy to issues of leadership and citizenship.

In a still larger vision, the Divinity School seeks to influence the teaching of religion across the academy by developing the Chicago School for the Craft of Teaching in the Academic Study of Religion. This will provide an online video archive of our programs, so that students anywhere can benefit from them. In this way we will affirm anew the University’s reputation for being “the teacher of teachers.”

The Craft of Teaching is a unique, innovative, and far-reaching program. The Divinity School is eager to realize our full vision for it.