“The Politics of Valuing (in) the Religious Studies Classroom.” Working Paper to be Presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, 2015.
After a Marquette ethics instructor became the epicenter of an on-line debate about codes that limit speech within college classrooms, Eric Posner penned an Op-Ed in which he argued that these codes should be celebrated because they mean that, among other things, “moral instruction and social control have been reintroduced to the universities after a 40-year drought.” This debate raises a number of important questions about how we should conceptualize the political and moral purposes of higher education in a liberal democracy. And, more specifically, how instructors should organize their classrooms to achieve those ends. These questions are especially pressing for those of us teaching religion in secular, public institutions. In this essay, I will argue that how we frame the moral dimensions of the traditions we study, and how we choose to engage (or not engage) the value commitments of our students, can have profound pedagogical and political implications.
“The Personal is Pedagogical: Embracing Moral Debate in the Religious Studies Classroom.” Religious Studies News: Spotlight on Teaching (forthcoming).
In this essay, I argue that student impulses to essentialize, personalize, and exoticize that which they are studying becomes more intense when the difference they encounter is not simply religious, but moral. I then outline two alternative strategies, drawn largely from the pedagogical toolbox of our colleagues in philosophy, that prove useful for teaching in the midst of these impulses. The core insight of both strategies is that deeply personal disagreement and debate can, and indeed must, be a central component of our classrooms when teaching the moral traditions of others.
“Beyond Expression: Helping First-Year Students Understand the Nature and Function of Academic Writing” Working Paper Presented at the Annual Conference on College Composition and Communication, 2014.
"Ethics as a Liberal Art: Applying the Principle of Toleration to the Ethics Classroom," Working Paper Presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, 2013.
"Teaching Comparative Religious Ethics: Paradigms, Strategies, and Resources," Working Paper Presented at the Joint Annual Meetings of the Society of Christian Ethics, Society for Jewish Ethics, and the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics, 2012.