Three members of the Religious Studies department, Susan Henking, Richard Salter and Michael Dobkowski, appear in the most recent issue of “Spotlight on Teaching,” a publication of the American Academy of Religion. Their essays address the challenges of teaching difficult subjects.
The unifying theme of their work is how to bring students to a deeper understanding of subjects “both highly politicized and highly personalized,” said Henking. “We often have to teach subjects that are more than merely cognitive, that connect with students emotionally. Knowledge can be a painful thing and education can challenge one's deepest beliefs.”
Henking’s essay, “Difficult Knowledges: Sexuality, Gender, Religion” draws on her November 2004 course on sexuality and religion — also offered this spring. “What is the place of tears in teaching and learning,” Henking asks?
In the second piece, Dobkowski and Salter reflect on their experience teaching about genocide at the Colleges in the essay, “Teaching the Unteachable: Cassandra’s Paradox.” The piece raises concerns about “how to hold students’ attention as we grope toward understanding.”
Founded in 1909, the American Academy of Religion is the world's largest association of scholars of religion. The AAR promotes research, publishing and teaching about religion in academia.