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The Wabash Center's Dialogue On Teaching

Author: The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion

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Dialogue on Teaching, hosted by Nancy Lynne Westfield, Ph.D., is the monthly podcast of The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. Amplifying the Wabash Center’s mission, the podcast focuses upon issues of teaching and learning in theology and religion within colleges, universities and seminaries. The podcast series will feature dialogues with faculty teaching in a wide range of institutional contexts. The conversation will illumine the teaching life.Webinar Producer: Rachel Mills Sound Engineer: Dr. Paul O. Myhre Original Podcast music by Dr. Paul O. Myhre
133 Episodes
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The measures of scholarly productivity are often premised upon a life without the distractions of children and family. The challenges of tenure and promotion are amplified for young parents, yet schools seldom support new mothers with policies, procedures, and cultural norms of welcoming and belonging. Too many schools punish, shame, or blame women who choose to parent. This conversation with young theologians raises the problem of living integrated, whole lives as generative women in the academy.  What are alternative institutional practices which would affirm, nurture, and strengthen young mothers who are dedicated to scholarship and a life of teaching in the academy? What if the life of the mind included pregnant women, nursing women, and mothers of infants and toddlers? 
A critical challenge during the first years of teaching is defining, forming, and living into a scholarly identity which is healthy, has integrity and is generative for your own scholarly project. This conversation discloses some of the pitfalls and risks when institutions provide little to no mentoring. What does it take to have a common sense and reasonable perspective for being a scholar and for doing scholarship ... over the long haul? What practices might support habits of self-care, creativity, and imagination for sound teaching, scholarship, and service? What is "good" citizenship while on a faculty? 
Conversations on Teaching and SpiritualitySeries One: Exploring Thurman's The Sound of the GenuineSeries One: Episode 2 of 3: Expressions of the GenuineWhat if hearing the genuine inside yourself requires a quest, a leaving home, or an exploration of the unfamiliar? If you leave home, can you find a home again? Does the genuine come from within you or does it come through you from somewhere else? What does it mean to offer the genuine as you teach? Dr. Amy G. OdenAdjunct Professor of Early Church History and SpiritualityIndependent ScholarRev. Dr. Shively T. J. SmithAssistant Professor of New TestamentBoston University School of Theology
What conditions prepare schools and classrooms for racist and other harmful events? What knowledges are needed to create spaces of compassion, confrontation, and moral accountability?  What do students know and what do they need to know when issues of injustice, inequity and transformation must be faced? 
Schools have a lack of preparedness for students and colleagues who are recent immigrants. What theologies inform the practices, policies and procedures of educational institutions concerning support for recent immigrants? What kinds of advocacies are needed in learning communities? When is the stranger not to be considered strange and why is that so important?
How are you? The response to this question can be weighty during the COVID 19 pandemic. What we teach can be disturbing. What adjustments in our syllabi and teaching practices might aid in care? What could go wrong while attending to the needs of students? Why are classrooms never to be spaces of therapy? 
Seasons of a Teaching CareerSeries One is entitled Exploring Early Career Issues. The featured speakers of this video series are Leah Payne (Portland Seminary, George Fox University), Roger Nam (Candler School of Theology, Emory University) and Nancy Lynne Westfield (The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion).Common sense conversations meant to provide perspective, inspire, and encourage colleagues who are new to the academic enterprise. The discussions are frank, heartfelt and oftentimes personally reflective about the challenges, obstacles, pitfalls and joys of a life of teaching while early in the career.
What is at risk for those teachers who teach about the connection between religion, the siege on the Capital Building and racial progress? What kinds of evaluations are levied against the professor whose work is noticed for its impact upon the public? What happens when administrators do not know how to respond to assaults on faculty whose work is contested by those beyond the school? What is the toll of societally transformative teaching upon the faculty person? 
When the student body becomes majority people of color - what is the response?  Who are the leaders capable of grappling with intersectionality?  What is public accountability?, who wins?, and what is lost? 
All of us are experiencing the pandemics differently; the shifting and changing varies. Yet, gaging the classroom and the learning by our students is integral. The losses, responses, and disruptions of COVID 19 has dulled skills and left many teachers feeling as if we are simply muddling through. What does it mean to learn to recalibrate? How do we respond when there is no one right way? Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Sarah Azaransky (Union Theological Seminary). 
Teaching as a focus of institutional change might be a lynchpin in creating sustainable schools. What if we free faculty to teach, then redesign institutional shifts around their teaching? What would it mean to collaborate beyond the seminary walls and into the neighborhoods? What would it take to suspend judgement of institutional mistakes long enough to experiment for change? Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Ben Sanders, III (Eden Theological Seminary).
Informed definitions of trauma are needed. Classrooms are never spaces for therapy. Ways of developing trauma awareness, self-care strategies and referrals. Creating spaces of respect, regard and care are needed for faculty, administration, and students. Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Lisa Cataldo (Fordham University).
Welcome to Conversations on Teaching and Spirituality.    Series One is entitled Exploring Thurman’s “The Sound of the Genuine”.The featured speakers of this video series are Dr. Nancy Westfield, Dr. Amy G. Oden and Dr. Shively T.J. Smith.Using Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman’s baccalaureate address at Spelman College (May 4, 1980), entitled “The Sound of the Genuine,” these colleagues discuss the challenges of teachers attempting to bring their whole-selves to teaching. Each episode includes a spiritual practice, as well as excerpts from Thurman’s article.
Learning about teaching during the Covid lockdown. Combating transactional teaching. Approaching scholarship for and with the public.  Creativity required for the larger questions and teaching.  Dr. Nancy  Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Randall Balmer (Dartmouth College).
What meanings do youth place upon these pandemics? What are the fears of young scholars challenged to work from home? What strategies have scholar-parents devised to teach from home? How has this moment of pandemics heightened the fear of early career faculty concerning issues of presumed incompetence? Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Sarah Farmer (Indiana Wesleyan University). 
Revamp the syllabus so assessment is fair, generative, and manageable. Thriving as an early career faculty might mean new and different kinds of assignments and assessment. Get rid of assignments that overwhelm and cause suffering. Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Roger Nam (Candler School of Theology - Emory University). 
Shifting from face-to face to online took many professors by surprise in March of 2020. Now, one year later, this conversation is an insightful reflection about having grappled with the fear and the hard challenges of having rethought the syllabus. Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Arthur E. Farnsley, II (Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis - IUPUI). 
This podcast episode is taken from a recording of a webinar. Body indicators such as nose, hair, and flesh tones are relied upon for the perpetuation of prejudice, bias, and presumed privilege. What would it mean to unlearn, then relearn more liberative ways of reading the body? Can the truncated imagination which only sees value in the white body be rekindled to see worth in all bodies? The featured speakers for this event are Dr. Melanie Harris (Texas Christian University) and Dr. Jennifer Harvey (Drake University).
Centering creativity in knowledge production and teaching. The best scholarship comes from animating our ideas, refusing to be policed, nurturing curiosity, and pursuing a spirit of play. We all need a no-judgement zone, a designated space where mistakes are encouraged, even rewarded. Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins (Columbia Theological Seminary).
Student Formation can no longer ignore educational debt.  Why are faculty reticent to confront student debt? What does it mean that the burden of debt is significantly higher among minoritized students? What if justice for students requires strategies concerning money, wealth, and debt management? Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield hosts Dr. Jo Ann Deasy (The Association of Theological Schools).
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