Mission Statement and Program Areas
Mission: The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion seeks to enhance and strengthen education in theology and religion in theological schools, colleges, and universities in the United States and Canada.
Our programmatic emphasis is upon:
I. Faculty Practices and Vocation
At the center of the work with faculty at the Wabash Center are reflective practices that engage issues of classroom teaching and learning, explore the teaching vocation, and attend to institutional mission and context. The goal is improving classroom skills and reflective teaching practices that support student learning. Because current training within doctoral programs is heavily focused on discipline research, faculty members who are new to the teaching profession often need help in thinking about the teaching dimensions of their jobs. For more seasoned faculty, the value of the teaching profession needs to be reestablished. Thus we employ strategies that honor the profession of teaching while introducing faculty at all stages of development to a variety of classroom practices that place student learning at the core.
We will know that we are successful when program participants demonstrate the qualities and skills of reflective teaching and best practices, and design intellectual experiences for student learning that translates beyond the classroom.
II. Educational Environments
There are several environments where teaching and learning can either be nurtured or stymied because of institutional obstacles. These environments are the educational institutions themselves (theological schools, seminaries, departments of religion in colleges and universities); the graduate schools where religion and theology faculty earn their Ph.D. or Th.D.; and the professional societies where faculty members present their scholarship and engage in wider professional discussions. All are places where sustained pedagogical conversations can be valued as a part of the culture or where teaching can be discouraged and devalued. Thus the Wabash Center’s second area of programming consists of strategies to address each of these environments.
We will know that we have been successful when: 1) educational cultures of theological seminaries and religion departments become more sustaining of good teaching practices, are congruent with the institutional mission, and demonstrate traits of being a learning community; 2) participating doctoral programs incorporate and value sustained pedagogical conversations within doctoral students’ courses of study; and 3) there is an increase in the frequency and depth of teaching and learning conversations at professional society meetings.
III. Teaching and Learning Resources
A significant aspect of the Wabash Center’s work is connecting faculty members with resources in the field of teaching and learning in higher education. The introduction to and use of these resources is woven throughout the workshops, colloquies, consultations, and leadership development work, and is accessible to faculty through the Wabash Center website and journal, The Journal On Teaching. Our first goal in this area is to expose program participants to the literature that will support them in their various roles as teachers and faculty members of educational institutions. Our second goal is to encourage and support the creation of the scholarship of teaching and learning in the fields of religious and theological studies.
We will know we have been successful when: 1) participating faculty members make more frequent use of educational resources through our website and onsite collection; 2) scholars who have been nurtured through JOT’s network of writers are actively contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning from the perspective of their disciplines; and 3) contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning becomes a valued practice for tenure and advancement in theological schools and departments of religion.