Volume 16: Issue 1 – January 2013
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The Capstone Experience For the Religious Studies Major
The purpose of this essay is to offer a survey of Religious Studies Capstones from twenty-nine U.S. colleges and universities, to identify the most common frustrations about the Capstone, and to observe how departments resolve such frustrations. I conclude that Capstones that are the most successful—in terms of students’ performance and faculty satisfaction—are those that are carefully linked to their department’s major curriculum, pedagogies, and staffing, that set out to achieve a reasonable set of objectives, and that are aligned with their institutional mission, culture, and expectations for assessment. Yet, I argue that it is becoming increasingly difficult to design our Capstone experiences according to the above principles because of a proliferation of departmental and institutional pressures we presently face. Finally, I offer some guidelines by which we might devise or revise our Capstones to alleviate some of the most common pressures.
Assigning Integration: A Framework for Intellectual, Personal, and Professional Development in Seminary Courses
This article explores assignments as a core teaching practice essential to integrating the cognitive, personal and professional identities of seminary students. These core practices emerge in seminary curricula where there is a strong focus on the teaching of canonical texts and a goal of achieving textual mastery. We propose that carefully chosen and constructive assignments achieve the kind of integration necessary for building content knowledge and the professional, spiritual and religious identities of our students. While the contrast between the academy and the seminary can be very sharp, we argue here for ways to make that contrast both productive and generative.
English for Bible and Theology: Understanding and Communicating Theology Across Cultural and Linguistic Barriers
This article introduces English for Bible and Theology (EBT), an inherently interdisciplinary field that merges English language learning with the content of biblical and theological studies in a context that is, by nature, cross-cultural. Within this collaboration there exists the possibility not only to enable theological study, but also to enhance it through a focus on personal meaning and its communication, both of which are foundational to the communicative language classroom. That is, EBT seeks both to aid students worldwide in attaining the specialized language and cultural proficiency necessary to access English theological resources and to provide a community in which students can connect theological content to their lives. It is this second aim that provides EBT its relevance across a range of theological contexts, as native English-speaking students likewise stand to benefit from the application of EBT’s principles.
IN THE CLASSROOM
• What Do You Know?
• Beyond Fight of Flight: Responding to Stressful Student Comments in Class
Sara M. Koenig
• Using Bible Commentaries in the Classroom
Seung Ai Yang
This discussion of the goals and methods of teaching biblical literature is an edited transcription of a panel recorded at the 2010 Society for Biblical Literature conference. The panelists were asked to reflect on William Placher's recently published theological commentary on Mark as an example or test case of how one might use a biblical commentary as a classroom resource. Karl Barth wrote that insofar as their usefulness to pastors goes, most modern commentaries are "no commentary at all, but merely the first step toward a commentary." What value might commentaries have for our students, whether future pastors or undergraduates in the liberal arts? While the panel consisted of teachers of undergraduates as well as theological students, the emphasis of the presentations and subsequent discussion focused for the most part on theological formation.
• From Classroom to Controversy: Conflict in the Teaching of Religion
Lynn S. Neal
What happens when a class assignment becomes a source of controversy? How do we respond? What do we learn? By describing the controversy surrounding an assignment on religion and representation, this article examines conflict’s productive role in teaching about NRMs and religion. It suggests that we consider how our personal and institutional dispositions toward conflict influence our pedagogies. Moreover, it urges us to consider how teaching conflicts within and/or between disciplines can enhance our learning objectives and stimulate students’ ability to think critically.
Metaphor for Teaching
• The Contemplative Bow in Teaching and Learning Pastoral Care
Michael S. Koppel
This article elucidates theoretical underpinnings for the use of one’s self in the pastoral theological classroom. The contemplative bow is developed as a capacious metaphor to describe appropriate self use and its necessary importance in the teaching and learning of pastoral arts in a theological curriculum. Central to the argument is the assumption that effective teaching and learning in pastoral care emerges from awareness and knowledge of self as well as letting go of self in beneficial service with others. Analytical engagement of educational, theological, and psychological theory and informs practice for the professional school classroom.