Wabash Center Mission
2012-15 Program Areas:
Created and sustained by grants from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion seeks to enhance and strengthen education in North American theological schools, colleges and universities.
1. Faculty Practices and Vocation
The heart of the work of the Wabash Center is its exploration of best practices in teaching and learning and for supporting the teaching vocation. Because current training within doctoral programs is heavily focused on the research component of a discipline, faculty members who are new to the profession often need help thinking about their teaching role. Therefore, we seek strategies that honor the vocation of teaching and introduce faculty members to a variety of classroom practices that place student learning at their core.
The purpose of Wabash Center workshops and colloquies is to give faculty members from common disciplinary or institutional environments the space, time, and leadership to engage in conversations about teaching and learning that can serve as a leaven for their classrooms, their collaborative work with colleagues, their vocations as teachers, and their home institutions. Various strategies engage graduate students who are preparing for the profession, new faculty who are in their first and second years of full-time teaching, and mid-career faculty who are preparing for their roles as senior faculty.
2. Educational Environments
There are several environments where teaching and learning can either be nurtured and promoted or stymied because of institutional or societal obstacles. These environments are the educational institutions (theological schools, seminaries, departments of religion in colleges and universities), the graduate schools where religious and theological studies faculty earn their Ph.D. or Th.D., and the professional societies where faculty members present their scholarship. All are places where sustained pedagogical conversations can be promoted as a part of the culture of value. In order for the Wabash Center to fulfill its mission, we offer programs that address each of these environments.
Strategies for working in these environments include consultants for on-site visits, workshops at society meetings, designated grant programs, and workshop and colloquy gatherings of faculty for discussion.
3. Teaching and Learning Resources
Since its inception, the Wabash Center has connected faculty members with resources in the field of teaching and learning in higher education. The use of these resources is woven throughout the workshops, colloquies, consultations, and leadership development work, as well as made accessible to faculty through its website and through publications in its journal, Teaching Theology & Religion. The first goal in this area is to expose Wabash Center program participants to the literature that will support them in their various roles as teachers and faculty members of educational institutions. The second goal is to encourage and support the creation of the scholarship of teaching and learning in the fields of religious and theological studies.
2012-15 Re-Granting Activity:
Not all of the goals of the Wabash Center will be met through strategies that bring selected participants to a particular place for a specified time. There is always the work of “returning home” which presses the participant to translate what they have learned into strategies for the home setting. Through the re-granting program, we engage directly the work of enhancing and strengthening teaching and learning within institutional environments. The re-granting program is concerned primarily with building the capacity of institutions and faculties for sustained pedagogical conversations. It also serves to empower and encourage others to initiate relevant change within their home institutions