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Pragmatism and Empiricism in American Religious Thought Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

A joint Session with The Pragmatism and Empiricism in American Religious Thought Unit and The Transformative Scholarship and Pedagogy Unit seeks papers on the following theme:

Cultivating Democratic Practices in and around the Classroom

A common defense of the humanities is that it prepares students for democratic citizenship by teaching skills like critical thinking, self-reflection, open-mindedness, and civil discourse. Relative to these core tenets, at a time where both democracy and higher education appear to be under attack, we invite papers that highlight the practical work educators can do in the classroom to cultivate critical thinking and democratic habits in our students.

Informed by thought leaders such as Dewey, Freire, hooks and others, we invite papers that address how we might enact spaces in our classrooms that help mitigate the challenges posed to both our democracy and our educational institutions.

We welcome papers that frame the classroom as a training ground for democracy and address how educators can equip students to navigate a diversity of thought, integrate new and challenging ideas, and understand themselves to be engaged in a lifelong process of learning. We encourage presentations that “show” rather than “tell” by engaging the audience in demonstrations or participatory activities. Additionally, we are open to critiques and reassessments of the idea of the classroom as a training ground for democracy.


For the 2024 Meeting, the Open & Relational Theologies Unit and the Pragmatism and Empiricism in American Religious Thought Unit invite proposals on the following themes:

This co-sponsored roundtable discussion will explore the theme of pedagogy and power. Rather than presenting formal papers, panelists will discuss how their theoretical commitments to or interest in–an open and relational standpoint or pragmatism and empiricism—inform their teaching practice and understanding of power. Proposals should explain interest in participating in the roundtable and share concrete examples of the creative ways you have adapted your pedagogy based on your commitment to the principles of your discipline. We especially welcome reflection on how you contend with power as part of teaching religion, as well as pedagogical practices that address issues related to marginality in the classroom.


Statement of Purpose

The mission of the Pragmatism and Empiricism in Religious Thought Unit is to foster the advancement and understanding of the pragmatic and empiricist traditions in American religious thought, as well as the intersections of those traditions with other methodologies, intellectual figures, artistic movements, communities, and issues. This Unit is concerned with critically interrogating, evaluating, and developing the insights and relevance of the pragmatic and empiricist traditions of American thought, broadly construed, for the study of religion and theology, with attention both to the historical interpretation of ideas and contemporary developments within this critical sphere of philosophical and theological reflection. Recent areas of interest include pragmatism and democracy, the continued relevance of empiricism to the revival of pragmatism, multidisciplinary aspects of the tradition (intersections with other fields of inquiry), overlaps with cultural criticism and analyses of gender and race, and the application of pragmatic and empiricist analyses to contemporary problems.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members