Teaching Religion: Pedagogy, Transmission, and Technology

full name / name of organization: 
Joseph Fisher / Columbia Department of Religion

Teaching Religion: Pedagogy, Transmission, and Technology

Columbia University Department of Religion Graduate Conference
Friday, March 27, 2015
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kathryn Lofton - Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, History and Divinity Yale University

Call for Paper:
Pedagogy, transmission, and technology transform the teaching of religion by shaping the movement of ideas. Often understood as distinct categories, pedagogy, transmission, and technology substantially overlap in discussions of how, why, and by what means religion is taught. By bringing to light both how religions themselves are so often pedagogical in nature and the ways the study of religion poses particular pedagogical problems, this conference aims to challenge popular modes of teaching religion. In this conference we will discuss fundamental questions of how religion can be studied and taught, how religious knowledge can be created and transmitted, and how new technologies enable new ways of imagining religion. By putting into conversation teachers of religion from both within and outside religious communities, this conference seeks to not only cultivate interdisciplinary conversation, but also transgress the boundaries between religion and its secular study.

We encourage submissions from those across the social sciences, humanities, and within religious communities with interests in teaching religion. Our discussion will address, but is by no means limited to, the following questions:
● Is it possible to distinguish the teaching of religion from teaching about it? Has the presupposed boundary between members of religious communities and self­identifying secular scholars of religion been eroded? Did it ever exist at all?
● How do academics account for students with confessional interests? What responsibility do scholars and teachers of religion have in transmitting authoritative religious knowledge? Is their work participating in a religious tradition or intervening in it?
● Outside the formal study of religion how do teachers address the subject of religion? How do academics reconcile the epistemological frameworks of religion with their position as scholars? For example, what is the relationship between questions of historicity and veracity?
● How can secular scholars learn from the transmission of knowledge in religious traditions for their own pedagogical purposes? Is this a legitimate resource to draw from for the secular study of religion?
● What should be the intended audience for both academic and non­academic scholarship on religion?
● Do scholars of religion need to have belief systems in order to teach religion properly, i.e. from a point of
'legitimate' understanding?
● What pedagogical role will new technologies play in the study of religion? How might they change classroom
structures? Will they allow scholars of religion to access new audiences? Furthermore, how will new technologies alter the nature of research in the field of religion?

Please send a 300 ­word abstract, along with your name, institution, specialization, and year of study to columbiareligion@gmail.com by January 15, 2015.

All proposals will receive a response by early February, 2015.