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“Choose Your Own Metaphysical Adventure: Redesigning the Creative Final Project for Islam-focused Courses”

Awarded Grant
Bazzano, Elliott
LeMoyne College
Undergraduate School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
What is the purpose of a liberal arts education, in the context of required religious studies courses? Amidst debates in the academy about the lines between religious studies and theology, the average college student seems not to care much about this field-specific debate. What they do care about, however, is finding meaning in their college courses, college experience, and even life more generally. Given the kinds of topics religious studies and theology courses explore, therefore, students tend to enter these learning experiences primed to seek insights about profound social, political, and metaphysical questions. By implementing assignments with attention to the personal search for meaning, this Fellowship Project allowed both instructor and students to conceive of college courses not only as repositories of applicable knowledge but also as processes for reflexive exploration about taboo topics whose stigmas often prevent people from even considering the range of questions they might meaningfully ask about themselves and the world.
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“Now Boarding for Parts Unknown”: Religious Studies, Study Abroad, and the Discourse of Global Citizenship

Awarded Grant
Langenberg, Amy
Eckerd College
Undergraduate School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
My project investigated the productive intersection of Religious Studies, study abroad, and the discourse of "global citizenship" in the context of a short-term study abroad trip to Buddhist pilgrimage towns in Nepal and India offered through Eckerd College's International Education program. Its goals were to: 1) Develop a toolbox of pedagogical approaches and strategies for disrupting students' parochial behaviors while they are happening, promoting real-time reflection on the vagaries of difference, and encouraging critical assessment of the notion of global citizenship during travel abroad. 2) Engage Eckerd faculty in intentional, visible, ongoing conversations about pedagogies of travel abroad and the discourse of global citizenship.
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A Decolonizing Pedagogy

Awarded Grant
Oh, Jea
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
2017

Proposal abstract :
The primary goal of my teaching project is decolonizing Western oriented perspectives in a majority white college by teaching diversity in terms of religion, culture, race, class, etc. in order to help students to accept diversity as something real and valuable in the society perhaps unfamiliar from their sheltered backgrounds. In order to accomplish my goal, I have examined several strategies such as mindful teaching, a postcolonial perspective, and a ...
Proposal abstract :
The primary goal of my teaching project is decolonizing Western oriented perspectives in a majority white college by teaching diversity in terms of religion, culture, race, class, etc. in order to help students to accept diversity as something real and valuable in the society perhaps unfamiliar from their sheltered backgrounds. In order to accomplish my goal, I have examined several strategies such as mindful teaching, a postcolonial perspective, and a comparative research project component in my PHI102 Introduction to Religious Studies course since the Fall of 2015. My project is to revamp my PHI102 course in three ways by reinstating a meditation in class, changing the textbooks in a postcolonial perspective, refining a site-visit assignment in order to achieve the goal of decolonizing Western oriented perspectives. This project will be practiced through the Fall 2017 and the Spring 2018 and assessed and modified via student and peer evaluation.

Learning Abstract :
The ultimate purpose of my project "Decolonizing Pedagogy: A Contemplative and Comparative Approach" is a decolonizing of Western-oriented perspectives at a majority white college by teaching the value of diversity in terms of religion, culture, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other significant forms of living difference in order to help students to accept diversity as something real and valuable. Such pedagogy can begin to reverse and transform their societal experience that views diversity as something perhaps unfamiliar from the standpoint of their sheltered backgrounds. In terms of contemplative learning, I started my classes with meditation and yoga stretching. And from a postcolonial perspective, I taught indigenous traditions first and moved to Asian religions instead of starting with Western traditions. For having comparative dialogues, my students visited or interviewed other religious places and practitioners. With our departmental support and advice from Dr. Thomas Pearson the Associate Director of Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, I have successfully finished my project with a vast and deep array of fruitful outcomes. I shared my project and its outcomes with the Gen Ed Assessment Team in 2018 at WCUPA as a committee member during an intensive workshop in the Summer 2018. My experience of "Decolonizing Pedagogy: A Contemplative and Comparative Approach" has been highly regarded and has contributed significantly as part of a college wide integrative learning rubrics for teaching interdisciplinary courses at WCUPA. With the successful improvements I have experienced over these two semesters, I will continue to constructively change and supplement more practical and effective strategies in our future religion classes aimed at paving a path of decolonizing pedagogy.
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Are We Living in a Bonhoeffer Moment? Reading Bible While Thinking Theologically and Ethically

Awarded Grant
Parker, Angela
The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
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Learning Abstract :
I have learned a multitude of practices regarding teaching and learning. Ultimately, I realized that I must continue to grow my pedagogical skills if I want to have transforming effects on my students. I must push my students to synthesize their experiences. While I had them reflect on their site visits, I did not encourage them to write on their site visits. I think that the pedagogical purpose of writing on the site visits in conjunction with reading biblical text may have showed students how they can begin to create biblical scholarship in the place of their calling. Write about site visits while reading biblical text may also encourage students to wrestle with the idea of multiplicity within biblical interpretation. They were learning that in the context of Reading Practices, New Testament Survey, and Postcolonial Theory and Biblical Hermeneutics but I did not provide an opportunity to synthesize that thought.
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Critical Reflection of "Cultural Self-Awareness" in Counseling Training.

Awarded Grant
Park, Sophia
Neumann University
2017

Proposal abstract :
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Learning Abstract :
Teaching the inequities people experience based on race, ethnicity, culture is like digging a well with a teaspoon. This experiential project had exposed to me a far deeper wells of resistant beliefs that lie in the unconsciousness of the students that keep them from opening up their minds and hearts towards change. However, I have also gained the insight that these deep-seated beliefs need to be exposed, brought to awareness, reflected upon their origins, and help students to discern what to do with them and what other truths they want to replace them with, all in an emotionally safe classroom environment. Bringing about changes to the beliefs gained through societal grand narratives, that lie beneath one's awareness, cannot be forced nor rushed and may take a very long time. Knowing this has freed me to see my calling as a teacher as a marathon and not a sprint, attacking one step, one misinformed "truth" at a time.
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Developing a Positive Sense of Religious Plurality in the RELS 100 Course

Awarded Grant
Hillgardner, Holly
Bethany College
Undergraduate School
2017

Proposal abstract :
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Learning Abstract :
The purpose of my project is to help students in my introductory, mandatory RELS 100 course at Bethany College, a small, private liberal arts college in West Virginia, value religious diversity as an important component of American democracy. Results revealed that my enriched assignment with the interview did not move the needle significantly on students' attitudes about religious diversity. In fact, on one measure (#3), it made them more exclusivist regarding Christianity. Findings should be interpreted with caution, as this project had a small sample size. Test and control groups were also not equable in terms of gender and racial diversity. In addition, 7 out of 8 students who had the second point of contact (the thank you note) held steady or moved in the direction of appreciating religious diversity. Changing long-held understandings concerning about religious beliefs requires more than single instances of contact with difference.
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Disentangling Assessment Practices in the Introductory Preaching Class

Awarded Grant
Helsel, Carolyn
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
My project, entitled "Disentangling Assessment Practices in the Introductory Preaching Class," aimed to pull apart the various components of assessment that take place in the homiletics classroom: evaluating sermon quality, giving feedback to students on their preaching, and grading students' work. In the past, the confluence of these three markers of assessment has lead to cross-purposes. I wanted students to feel less pressure when preaching, since the act of sermon creation and delivery can be more stressful than other seminary assignments, and because I wanted them to rely more heavily on the wisdom of their own preaching traditions. Worrying about a grade from me, I reasoned, placed undo emphasis on my own criteria for good preaching, rather than allowing the students to seek out advice from preachers whom they have learned from in the past.
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Educating the Whole Student to Be "Men and Women for Others"

Awarded Grant
Eklund, Rebekah
Loyola University Maryland
Undergraduate School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
In a Jesuit context, students are open to the idea that educating the whole person (cura personalis) includes incorporating their spiritual and religious identities into Theology coursework, and doing so can deepen their learning by connecting it to their own experience. Students were typically not resistant to being asked to try out a spiritual practice; instead, students from a variety of faith backgrounds welcomed the experience and reported it to have a positive effect on their personal lives, their stress levels, and (for first-year students) their adjustment to college. Pairing such an exercise with appropriate readings and integrating it into a course also has the potential to help students learn some course material more effectively. Pairing this exercise with Community-Based Learning widens the scope from students' lives to include the community and its experiences, which helps make concrete more abstract concepts like social justice and loving the neighbor.
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Hybridization and Oppositional Reengagement as pedagogical practices to teaching “Introduction to the Old Testament”

Awarded Grant
González Holguin, Julián
Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
In my project I practiced pedagogical notions I learned during the Wabash workshop for Early Career Theological School Faculty. The most important knowledge of the professor in the classroom, even above mastering the subject content, is to know how students are experiencing learning. My project helped me see the benefits of receiving weekly feedback from students about their individual learning process. As result of this weekly learning window, I also practiced the notion of slowing down. Although lectures were prepared beforehand, I did not make the mistake of covering all the classroom time with content. I diversified the classroom into five components: review of ideas from previous class, lecture, group activists, critical analysis of secondary sources, and students' critical review of learning process. Each activity gave students the opportunity to slow down into specific concepts and skills for Biblical interpretation. I was able to establish a balance between content and students' intellectual curiosity and emotional needs. My project may contribute to the ongoing conversation in my institution about the importance of our social locations for the articulation of theological perspectives on the current issues in the global society. 
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Interfaith Dialogue: Pedagogy & Practice

Awarded Grant
Womack, Deanna
Candler School of Theology - Emory University
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
This project centered on a new travel course to India aimed at exposing students to the country's religious history and contemporary diversity. This seminar broadened my definitions of teaching, for rather than offering formal classroom instruction, I planned a group learning experience through developing the syllabus, creating a daily journaling guide, and working with others at my institution to prepare our travel schedule. Whereas my students typically privilege text-based knowledge about other religious traditions, in the context of travel the students shifted quite easily to learning through observation, participation, dialogue with Indian hosts, and discussions with one another. Through opportunities for individual reflection, I saw them learning as much about themselves and their own ways of relating to God, self, and others as they did about India. This project has prompted me to consider more holistic methods of teaching regular classes on campus that would similarly engage students – mind, body, and spirit. 
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Mentalizing Pastoral and Practical Theology

Awarded Grant
Gibson, Danjuma
Calvin Theological Seminary
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
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Learning Abstract :
The current sociopolitical environment in North America calls for theological education to prepare future leaders to engage with a variety of issues and diverse cultures that may be foreign to the student's indigenous culture and context. The conventional Hellenistic approach to pedagogy that engages intellection alone within the confines of the classroom will be insufficient for this task and runs the risk of the pedagogical project representing a tool of western cultural assimilation. Alternatively, mentalizing the classroom space is an intentional pedagogical approach that compels both teacher and student to enter the alterity of the other—of those forced to exist at the margin. This will maximize student (and teacher) learning and increase the probability of students developing a pastoral and vocational identity that embodies the requisite complexity and integrity to imagine creative healing praxis capable of redeeming individuals and communities.
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Pastoral Care and Liberation: Exploring the Connections

Awarded Grant
Fuller, Leanna
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
This fellowship project taught me that students are eager to explore the connections between liberation and pastoral care, and to imagine ways in which their own pastoral care practices might be more closely joined with practices of justice-making. However, I also learned that most students need certain kinds of pedagogical support to help them make these connections. First, students need a classroom environment that is safe enough to risk being vulnerable, but not so "safe" that students cannot challenge each other or discuss difficult topics. Additionally, students need multiple opportunities to practice skills, such as imagining how they might embody particular theological commitments through their pastoral care in specific situations. Ultimately, this project leads me to ask deeper questions about how my institutional context might become more hospitable to the types of conversations I hoped to foster in this particular course.
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Significance & Success: Fostering Motivation in General Education Theology Courses

Awarded Grant
Wong, Jessica
Azusa Pacific University
Undergraduate School
2017

Proposal abstract :
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Learning Abstract :
While many students do not enter a GE course with high levels of personal, professional, or social interest and, therefore, tend to demonstrate a lack of internal motivation, this deficiency can be corrected through a focus on relevance. An increase in the students' sense of the course material's significance can be achieved in the following ways. First, topics of student interest can be assessed early on and connections between these interests and the course material can be made explicit throughout the semester. Second, projects with a clear link to current social issues can be created. This latter exercise employs the power of self-discovery to concretize a connection between theology and real-world situations. Both tactics encourage students to recognize the social relevance of theology, which fosters a sense of the material's importance and increases levels of internal motivation.
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Teaching Religious Studies to Pre-Professional Students

Awarded Grant
Minister, Kevin
Shenandoah University
Undergraduate School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
The experience of implementing this fellowship project demonstrated that in the context of teaching religious studies to pre-professional students the quality of the learning community is the foundation of insightful and transformational education. Through cultivating quality learning community students were able to practice the skills of communicating about religion in a public context, dig into analysis of how religion shapes public life and different students' experiences of that, and collectively process the way that religion has shaped the demand to "be professional" in their own lives. Implementing Reflective Structured Dialogue in my course was key to creating this kind of learning environment. Given exposure to a critical analysis of the ideology of professionalism, students resonated with the critiques at a deep level. My overarching conclusion was that embracing my role as a facilitator in the classroom was a key pedagogical strategy for teaching religious studies to pre-professional students.
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Teaching Theology and Theological Reflection in the contemporary context of Columbia Theological Seminary

Awarded Grant
Hartman, Timothy
Columbia Theological Seminary
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
Proposal abstract :


Learning Abstract :
From this project I learned about the many possibilities and impact of connecting the learning of theological doctrines with the contemporary contexts of students. I also learned about the history of my institution and the strong pull of inertia that resists innovative change. I learned that I had the freedom to change more things in this required course than I thought I could, that the real test will be which of the changes stick in future iterations of the course, and that I—myself—also resisted the risks of dramatically overhauling the course. I learned that I have good pedagogical instincts that also need continual refining and further training. My project might contribute to the conversation on teaching and learning particularly in the teaching of long-standing required courses in a time of rapid change in theological education.
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The Power of Unseen Forces

Awarded Grant
Ghali, Adam
Fresno Pacific Univ Biblical Seminary
Theological School
2017

Proposal abstract :
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Learning Abstract :
Integrative thinking across multiple domains is widely accepted to be a valuable student skill, but significant confusion exists about how to develop it. Within this, it is essential to be oneself in the classroom and teach out of one is. Indirect approaches with illustrative procedures applied to concrete examples of relevant themes can demonstrate the value of the desired domains. This process models integrative thinking and invites students to begin that process. Attention to the students' initial knowledge level and carefully scaffolding their learning facilitates, not impedes, creativity. Giving space to address student objections, and time for students to work through ideas with each other allows students to learn from the material and one another while minimizing resistance. When also clearly and regularly referring to learning outcomes and prior activities and understandings in the course across the same themes, consistent engagement in integrative learning can begin and be sustained.
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