Thursday, August 10, 2017

Duke’s doctoral programs in religion and theology have received a two-year $30,000 grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning to promote pedagogical formation. The Ph.D. program, known as the Graduate Program in Religion (jointly administered by the Department of Religious Studies and the Divinity School), and Th.D. program (offered by the Divinity School) will share this funding and combine efforts to enhance their teacher training initiatives.

In the most recent survey by the National Research Council, the Graduate Program in Religion was ranked first in its listing of doctoral programs in religion. A newer undertaking, the Divinity School’s Th.D. program has quickly been recognized as a top program and boasts a superb placement rate for its graduates. In awarding this grant, the Wabash Center has recognized the leading role of both programs in the educational landscape, as well as the need for these programs to improve their current teacher training initiatives. The grant will fund events and programing for faculty and students centering on pedagogical issues, techniques, and goals, especially with regard to the specific challenges of teaching religion and theology.

According to Stephen B. Chapman, director of the Graduate Program in Religion, “Doctoral education traditionally slighted pedagogy in favor of research skill. An assumption was usually made that anyone with sufficient critical knowledge of a field could simply ‘pick up’ effective teaching along the way. But it wasn’t true, and we learned our lesson. Today—and Duke’s Graduate School is a premier example—many doctoral programs now emphasize teacher training as an integral part of doctoral education. The Wabash grant will not only enrich what we do for the next two years, it will prepare us to become more responsive and more nimble in the future as we meet the challenge of being educators in the twenty-first century.”

Said Ross Wagner, director of the Th.D. program, “In recent years, students have eagerly embraced teacher training programs such the Graduate School’s Certificate in College Teaching and the Divinity School’s Certificate in Reflective and Faithful Teaching. Up to now, however, there have been relatively few opportunities for professors to think systematically together about how to become more effective mentors of future faculty members in our seminars. This generous grant from the Wabash Center will allow us, over the course of the next two years, to foster a culture of reflective teaching at the very heart of Duke’s world-class graduate programs in religion and theology.”