Preparing Future Faculty Grants

$50,000 Grants to Enhance the Preparation of Doctoral Students as Teachers

Proposal deadline was March 1, 2017

New proposals may be fundable through our Project Grants Program ($30,000 limit).

Projects that gather faculty and other stake holders to reflect on, plan, design, revise, get feedback on, or assess a doctoral program’s structures and processes to prepare doctoral students for teaching.

  • TA programs
  • Mentoring
  • Pedagogy courses or workshops
  • Certificate programs
  • Admissions
  • Preparation to teach in particular contexts (e.g., undergraduate, theological, online)
  • Doctoral students as adjuncts

Examples of other of grant projects previously funded by the Wabash Center focused on the development of doctoral students as teachers.

Funded Projects

Asbury Theological Seminary
Getting In Line with Online Learning: PhD Apprenticeships in Online Education 201
PhD graduates often are hired by multiple institutions to teach as adjuncts, and primarily to teach online courses. While Asbury does require an Education course of its PhD students, it can only skim the surface of other platforms for learning beyond the geophysical classroom. Therefore, Asbury’s Advanced Research Program would like to offer a three-semester apprenticeship experience that involves matching a PhD student with a faculty member who teaches online. Ongoing training, critical and appreciative reflection and graduated responsibility for teaching create a dynamic process for learning. Semester 1: student watches while the faculty teaches; Semester 2: the faculty watches while the student teaches. Semester 3: the student teaches. The Director of Distributed Learning, as well as the Instructional Design Coordinator, will meet with students and faculty throughout the process, providing training and space for ongoing peer conversations.

Baylor University
Next Steps: The Wabash Teaching Initiative at Baylor University
The goal of this project is to take necessary “Next Steps” to enhance and expand the departmental infrastructure for the pedagogical foundations and innovations for graduate students and faculty tasked with teaching undergraduate Religion courses at Baylor University. With the assistance of a Wabash institutional grant in 2001, the Department of Religion established a formation program for doctoral students teaching in Religion. More than 100 graduate students have participated, but despite significant gains, we have identified in the proposal areas that need to be addressed in systemic and intentional ways. To achieve the overarching goal of the “Next Steps” Initiative, we plan to:
1) Establish broader and more effective faculty participation in graduate student teacher training;
2) Increase efforts to inculcate pedagogical “best practices” among graduate student teachers;
3) Implement effective administration and assessment of graduate student classroom teaching at Baylor.

Boston University School of Theology
Preparing Future Faculty
Boston University School of Theology proposes to pilot a set of annual colloquia, workshops, and retreats that augment our teacher training preparation beyond the first-year colloquium, coursework, and multi-year teaching and research internships, which already stand at the core of our PhD program. The objective of our project is to increase teaching competencies in our PhD graduates in course design and syllabus construction, online teaching, intercultural competency in teaching, and the development of a philosophy of teaching. The project is a creative new venture jointly developed by the School’s faculty, administration, and doctoral students.

Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Transforming Pedagogy for Religion and Theology through Online Teaching
The professorate in Religion Studies and Theology faces increasing demands for online teaching. However, few if any top tier graduate programs have sustained initiatives dedicated to training students in online pedagogy. This grant will provide resources for establishing the best practices in online pedagogy in the fields of theology and religion. We will create a self-paced training module to introduce PhD students in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion to a wide range of online pedagogies. After completing this training module, PhD students will be able to serve as teaching assistants in online courses, so that within three years, online pedagogy will be fully integrated into the Graduate Division of Religion teacher training program. Teaching assistants will participate in Candler’s online Doctor of Ministry program and in other online and hybrid courses in both Candler and the Department of Religion as they become available.

Catholic University of America
Utilizing Directed Peer Groups to Enhance Teaching Fellow Effectiveness
Following up on a previous grant from the Wabash Center to develop an inquiry-based model of learning across undergraduate theology and religious studies courses, Catholic University’s School of Theology and Religious Studies proposes to further its work in peer mentoring among graduate student teaching fellows. The primary goal of this project is to identify the specific learning activities that are most effective in enhancing student engagement on a variety of religious and theological topics and to implement those activities more widely among faculty and teaching fellows. Secondly, we will catalog the most effective learning activities among graduate teaching fellows as they witness, identify, and incorporate new activities into their own courses. The final goal is to enhance the undergraduate experience by encouraging teaching fellows to utilize best practices or activities related to the array of theology and religious studies topics.

Claremont Graduate University
Mentoring Future Faculty in Religious Studies within the Claremont College Consortium
Claremont Graduate University is a graduate-only institution situated within a consortium that includes five undergraduate colleges. All six institutions collaborate in religious studies education as part of the Claremont University Consortium. What this collaboration currently lacks is an avenue via which CGU graduate students can be mentored in teaching at the undergraduate colleges. Because the undergraduate colleges all pride themselves on small classroom sizes and extensive interaction between professors and students, professors at most of these institutions are not allowed to use teaching assistants in the ways that professors at research universities do. What this proposed program seeks to do is find ways in which religious studies professors at the 5Cs can mentor CGU graduate students in the art and technology of undergraduate teaching in religious studies. We hope to run a two-year pilot program to explore how best to enable this rich teaching/learning collaboration within the Claremont Consortium.

Drew Theological School
Forming Rooted, Innovative, and Courageous Teachers
The doctoral program at Drew Theological School has a reputation for adventurous transdisciplinarity and social engagement, training scholars for the critical and creative transformation of the disciplines, the academy, and the society. This two-year grant project aims to align the pedagogical and professional mentoring practices of the PhD program with this transformational curricular ethos, cultivating both students and faculty as rooted, innovative, and courageous teacher-scholars. Through structured curricular workshops, teaching colloquia, and collaborative learning projects, we seek to initiate a culture shift in PhD mentoring toward co-learning and collaboration among Drew’s vibrantly diverse faculty and student body. At the end of the project, students will have developed a robust teaching portfolio and faculty will have identified next steps for embedding mentoring for contextually adaptive, interactive, and transformational teaching and learning throughout the PhD.

DU/Iliff Joint Doctoral Program 
Opportunities for a Lifetime of Teaching Outside the Classroom
Those of us engaged in doctoral education are aware of the increasing challenge of placing students in full-time, tenure-track teaching positions. To address this situation, we hope to receive a Wabash Doctoral Grant to explore ways we can prepare our graduates for careers in venues where teaching is essential but which lie outside the usual classroom context. These careers include 1) curators/directors of education in museums associated with religious sites or with collections of religious artifacts; 2) academic technologists who assist faculty with developing their technological skill and the design of online courses; 3) hybrid positions in higher education where administrative work is combined with pedagogical roles (e.g., directors of service learning). Most of these positions give preference to individuals who hold PhDs. Our project includes symposia and workshops with experts and alumni working in these areas as well as piloting internships so students gain teaching experience in these contexts.

Duke University
Fostering a Culture of Teaching
A major initiative to reshape the culture of doctoral formation in religion and theology at Duke University, with the primary goal of elevating teaching excellence to equal standing with research excellence within the culture of the school. The grant funds a series of teaching-related conversations for doctoral students and faculty. It provides stipend support for doctoral student research of pedagogical issues in the teaching of religion and theology, as well as a restructuring of the teacher preparation resources and programs currently available in both the PhD and ThD programs at Duke. It places an emphasis on making observed teaching a regular aspect of doctoral education. The grant also underwrites Young Alumni events as a component of ongoing professional development efforts and provides for a single online repository for comprehensive information about the teaching resources and opportunities available to doctoral students in religion and theology.

Duquesne University
Structured Supports for Forming Teachers of Theology: Conception, Design, and Assessment
This project supports the development, refinement, and assessment of a set of sustainable practices designed to equip Ph.D. students to become effective teachers of theology. First, Teaching Assistants in their first and second years will be mentored as developing teachers through creating a zero-credit course on teaching theology for undergraduates. We will develop additional workshops on creating online courses, developing and teaching community-engaged courses, and preparing a teaching philosophy. Second, we will establish a structured learning experience that supports advanced Ph.D. students (Teaching Fellows) who are teaching their own undergraduate courses. Third, with the assistance of an external consultant, we will strengthen full-time faculty members’ capacities to mentor Ph.D. students as TAs, Teaching Fellows, and future teachers after the grant period is complete. Through these practices, we will foster among Ph.D. students and faculty a shared community of reflection on what it means to be a teacher of theology.

Fordham University
Preparing Future Faculty: Dimensions of Diversity and Survey Courses
Fordham University’s Department of Theology seeks support from the Wabash Center’s Preparing Future Faculty program for a two-phase project aimed at improving our capacity to produce PhDs skilled at teaching diverse populations of students, engaging pedagogically with multiple dimensions of human diversity, and teaching survey courses. In Phase I, we seek to assess the department’s success in preparing doctoral students to teach theology and religious studies at a range of academic institutions. We propose to employ the Center’s Graduate Program Teaching Initiative (GPTI) model: a gathering of recent alumni/ae, current students, and faculty members facilitated by a Wabash colleague. Then, in Phase II, we will use feedback gleaned from this assessment to embark upon two concrete initiatives to enhance our students’ ability to (1) engage with forms of diversity that we encounter at Fordham and that we believe our graduates encounter, and (2) successfully teach general or survey courses.

Indiana University
Teaching Religion in the 21st Century Classroom
Indiana University Bloomington has identified three main growth goals connected to the 21st-century classroom and the pedagogy of religion for our PhD students. First, we seek to provide our PhD students with tools for thinking about technology and pedagogy with respect to religion. Second, we want our PhD students to acknowledge and discuss issues around embodiment in the classroom. Third, we as a department want to evaluate and create a “best practices” policy around graduate mentoring. Wabash resources would facilitate several mechanisms for achieving these goals. Among the most visible are the new year-long required seminar on pedagogy for graduate students every other year, a series of faculty-graduate conversations on pedagogy in the alternating years, and a day-long retreat on graduate mentorship.

Vanderbilt University Divinity School
Pedagogical Mentoring for Diverse Institutional Contexts
It has never been more difficult to mentor PhD students in theology and religion. The tight job market has made it more important than ever for students to be able to work in diverse contexts, including undergraduate departments of religion in state colleges and universities, denominational schools, independent seminaries, and in non-academic careers. At university-based divinity schools like Vanderbilt, faculty members are quite at home when training students for jobs like their own, but are less comfortable and knowledgeable preparing students for other contexts. We need to bridge this gap between the diverse teaching contexts available to graduates today and the narrower teaching preparation they receive in their graduate programs. Since mentoring by Vanderbilt faculty span a spectrum of excellence, we seek to improve our communal mentoring skills and practice through this grant.

More Information

Mary T. Stimming, PhD
Associate Director for Special Programs
Wabash Center

During our 2011-16 Graduate Program Teaching Initiative with 33 doctoral programs in theology and religion, we heard Directors, Deans, and Chairs express the desire to improve teacher preparation of their doctoral programs.

To elevate and enhance this work, we created the Preparing Future Faculty Program, part of which includes this set of designated grants awarded to doctoral programs to improve their work with doctoral students preparing for a teaching career.

Grants are awarded to accredited Ph.D. and Th.D. programs in religious and theological studies in the United States and Canada.

Each grant project has two project directors to maximize the emerging work of the project and its sustainability. 

Project Directors from each school will gather for peer conversations with other grantees on the progress of their grant projects, in April 2018/2019.