Grant to Support Collaboration and Reflection

The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion has awarded a $5,000 small project grant to faculty members at Bethany Theological Seminary and Columbia Theological Seminary. The grant will support collaborative reflections on teaching and learning before, during, and after an intensive course on African-American Interpretation and the Gospel of Luke that will be offered in August 2020.

The course will be led by Dr. Mitzi Smith of Columbia Theological Seminary and Dr. Dan Ulrich of Bethany Theological Seminary.

The grant project is titled, “The Challenges and Effective Pedagogy of a Trans-Contextual Online Collaboration for an African-American/Womanist Hermeneutics Course during Covid-19.”  While directing the project between June and December 2020, Smith and Ulrich will investigate:

  • “how to collaborate justly and effectively as colleagues with different experiences related to race and gender;”
  • “how to create an effective, pedagogically flexible and ethically responsible transcontextual intensive online introductory Womanist and African American Hermeneutics/Interpretation course with a social justice focus and explorations component during this Covid?19 pandemic;” and
  • “how to use videos and other forms of distance education to engage students in explorations with people who are especially vulnerable at this time due to homelessness, poverty, and other forms of systemic oppression.”

Two additional colleagues with expertise in ethics and education have agreed to assist this project as consultants through regular Zoom meetings. Smith, Ulrich, and the consultants will make their learning available to the public in the form of a blog.  In addition, Ulrich plans to discuss his learning with colleagues on the Bethany faculty.

Smith is a widely published expert in African-American and womanist biblical interpretation, and she will take the lead in teaching the course.  She is J. Davidson Philips Professor of New Testament at Columbia.

Ulrich is Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany where he has been a leader in the area of distance learning for many years. He will participate in the course as a learner along with the 22 Bethany, ESR, and Columbia students who have registered so far.

The grant project promises to enhance what was already a timely and important learning opportunity.

“This grant will allow these faculty members to engage in active reflection on the experiential and pedagogical concerns in teaching this exciting new course that comes at a crucial time in the context of our wider culture,” said Dr. Steven Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary. “I know that the learning gleaned from this opportunity will inform our faculty, students, and curricula and will create the space for critical reflection and productive conversations going forward.”