December 01 2023

photo of a river confluence

As I was editing Namsoon Kang’s essay on “Radical Border-Crossing,” my American-born daughter told me of her friendship with an international student at the University of Iowa. She and her new friend from China exchange meals in their student apartments in Iowa City. They alternate Chinese and American foods, taking turns cooking for each other. They discuss holidays like Valentine’s Day or the Chinese New Year, phrases like “I love you,” and customs like dating. The rhythm of their “culture or context comparison” is this: “We do this, you do that. What do we have in common?” Of course, I probed about the matter of differences. Risk-takers that they are, the counsel was this: “You have to be willing to say, ‘Ooh, let’s try this!’” Perhaps in the rhythm and risk of these mundane yet microcosmic moments on a university campus, there is a hint of the promising future of transnational encounter in education.


photo of a river confluence

Barrett, Betty J. "Is ‘Safety’ Dangerous? A Critical Examination of the Classroom as Safe Space." The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 1, no. 1 (2010): article 9. doi:

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Conde-Frazier, Elizabeth, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett. A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

Esterline, David, Namsoon Kang, Joshva Raja, and Dietrich Werner, eds. Handbook of Theological Education in World Christianity. Eugene, OR: Regnum Books, 2010.

Fernandez, Eleazar S. Burning Center, Porous Borders: The Church in a Globalized World. Eugebe, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2011.

by Kate Ott, Drew University

Every year as the AAR Annual Meeting approaches and closes, I am struck by the instances of sexual harassment that are relayed. Maybe I hear about more of these because of my past role in training and research related to clergy sexuality education, my interest in sexual health as a professional ethics issue, or because I’m a woman (more about that in a later section).  

by W. Anne Joh, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Albrecht Dürer's "The Teacher, the Clergyman, and Providence"

At most institutions, mentoring happens capriciously, accidentally, selectively, informally, and sporadically. It is usually characterized as a one-on-one, discreet relationship that is decentralized and unmoored from the very life of the institution. However, good mentoring is about guiding and assisting the birth of a unique scholar—a scholar who can find her own sense of professional identity. This understanding of mentoring places it at the heart of institutional life. Thus a contribution to the emerging theological landscape would be finding ways to deepen and broaden our practices of mentoring within and across institutions. This effort would include thinking more precisely about the distinctions between mentoring and advising, as well as the formal and informal dimensions of mentoring.

Interviewed by Tina Pippin, Agnes Scott College and Chair, AAR Teaching and Learning Committee

Carolyn Medine, professor in the religion department and the Institute of African American Studies at the University of Georgia, is a mentor not only to her own students at UGA, but also her peers in the academy. Through her work at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, as cochair of the Teaching Religion section of the AAR, and as a leader in underrepresented minority groups in the academy, Medine’s influence has been wide and deep. Upon receiving this award, she gives credit to her own influences from high school and college—in particular, Ruel W. Tyson Jr., who taught her how to approach a literary text, and Charles H. Long at UNC–Chapel Hill. Medine sees mentoring as something that cannot be assigned; it is a natural process in which like-minded people find each other.

by Erik Owens, Boston College

The distinguished University of Chicago professor Jean Bethke Elshtain died in August at the age of 72, leaving behind a massive body of published work: hundreds of scholarly articles and chapters, many authored and edited books, countless opinion pieces, reflections, op-eds and interviews. She won dozens of awards and received prestigious honors from institutions and governments around the world. She broke barriers as an accomplished female professor and as a Christian political philosopher. She was a remarkable woman, as a wide array of obituary encomiums have affirmed in recent weeks.* I had the privilege of knowing her personally and professionally over some intense and exhilarating years as her graduate student in the religious ethics program at the Divinity School, and we remained in frequent contact in the years after.

Ellen Posman, Baldwin Wallace University
Reid B. Locklin, University of Toronto

Autonomy and/or Collaboration—Competing Values?

Academia is often a solitary pursuit. We design our own research projects and conduct them as we see fit, and, similarly, we design our own courses and teach them as we see fit. This is one aspect of academic freedom, and it is part of what attracted many of us to academia in the first place. As a result, team teaching presents something of a challenge: it threatens some of that treasured autonomy. 

Norma Baumel Joseph, Concordia University, Montreal
Leslie C. Orr, Concordia University, Montreal

Participation and Particularity

Cara Anthony, University of St. Thomas
Elise Amel, University of St. Thomas

Psychological “Framing” in a Theology Classroom

What does daily diet have to do with faith? Is the way I eat a meal sustainable and meaningful? Are my food choices consistent with my religious values? These are the kinds of questions students grapple with through our team-taught, upper-level course that fulfills a core requirement in theology at the University of St. Thomas.  At this level, courses are designed to give students an interdisciplinary perspective or to address a pressing social issue. “Theology & the Environment” does both, since we address the issue of food sustainability through the lenses of both theology and conservation psychology. 

Melissa Stewart, Adrian College
Deborah Field, Adrian College

Interdisciplinary Team Teaching

In times of budget cuts and the shrinking of the humanities, women’s studies courses offer religion professors an opportunity to build interdisciplinary networks across campus. Women’s studies in particular relies on multiple disciplines as well as personal experience to construct knowledge; it requires students to synthesize diverse types of information and insights. This makes it both inspiring to students and challenging to teach. We suggest that a transparent model of team teaching is a pedagogical strategy that can meet this challenge by modeling how to integrate various disciplinary insights and personal experience into true interdisciplinary knowledge production. By transparent team teaching, we do not mean splitting lectures in half; rather we refer to a process of open-ended, open-minded intellectual interaction that we will describe below.