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Teaching Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

The Teaching Religion Unit critically examines pedagogical theory and practice. We particularly value proposals that combine scholarship of teaching and learning *and* innovative teaching practices. For 2023, paper and panel proposals that address the following themes are especially welcome:


Honoring bell hooks

To honor the life and work of bell hooks, the Transformative Scholarship and Teaching Unit, Teaching Religion Unit, and Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Unit are seeking proposals on her influence for thinking about and teaching religion. In her book Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks examines education as the practice of freedom and argues for teaching students to transgress oppression. How do we structure our classrooms and our pedagogical strategies to use our power justly? How do we offer liberatory education that is inclusive and empowers students for critical consciousness and action? How might we broadly reimagine educational settings and strategies? Proposals for a demonstration of a teaching strategy are encouraged. 


Stifled Pedagogy: Teaching Religion and Sexuality in an Era of Censorship

The Religion and Sexuality Unit and the Teaching Religion Unit seek papers for a co-sponsored session exploring “Stifled Pedagogy: Teaching Religion and Sexuality in an Era of Censorship.” We invite proposals that offer frameworks for understanding contemporary challenges within and outside the religious studies and theology classrooms, such as political challenges to reproductive rights, undermining of trans rights, debates about "divisive concepts" and "critical race theory," and academic freedom. How is teaching about religion informed by particular institutional, state-wide, or other restrictions or debates? What pedagogical and/or political strategies are worth considering in response to these realities? We especially welcome proposals that blend theoretical frameworks with practical or demonstrable cases.


Decolonizing Assessment

There has been a growing momentum in the scholarship of teaching and learning about decolonizing syllabi and teaching–that is, working to de-center “canonical” voices, sources, and modes of learning that are tied to colonial legacies, racism, sexism, and other realities. But what would it look like to decolonize assessment in our classrooms? How might scholar-educators draw from emerging ways of conceptualizing decolonization to reimagine “evaluation”? And, what would it take to transform our institutions so as to allow such forms of assessment to take root? Proposals might also consider ways to decolonize peer teaching assessment and/or how peer assessment or collaboration may be helpful in the decolonizing process.


Preparing for Careers in Teaching Religion

The Teaching Religion Unit and the Graduate Student Committee invite proposals for a co-sponsored session on “Preparing for Careers in Teaching Religion.” This session will be a skills-based offering tailored to address the needs, experiences, questions, and hopes of graduate students, some of whom are already teaching and looking ahead toward careers as teachers in classrooms and communities. This session invites presentations that share best practices or some advice for teaching as/with graduate students and will include break out groups for more in-depth conversations (and networking!). Potential topics addressed might include: designing accessible syllabi and/or lesson plans; reflections on the job market and teaching portfolios; how to apply for jobs in various institutions if teaching is your primary interest; how to write a teaching statement; “ungrading” and different types of grading methods; and diversifying assignments (especially final projects) beyond the research paper. 


For possible co-sponsorship with the Law, Religion, and Culture Unit

On the consequences of recent laws regulating education (like the Stop Woke Act in Florida), with particular relation to the impact of such legislation on teaching religion and the role of religion in crafting such legislation.


Teaching Religion Abroad

We invite proposals for a workshop designed to promote best practices, introduce innovative ideas, and answer questions for AAR/SBL members interested in taking students on short-or long-term faculty-led study abroad programs. Participants will spend five minutes speaking to a specific component of the study abroad experience (planning an itinerary, pros and cons of working with a provider company, tying learning objectives to site visits, successful assignments, challenges of pilgrimage vs. secular travel, fundraising, etc.) before breaking into small groups for discussion and consultation. We invite proposals from experienced study abroad faculty leaders who can speak to one of these or other topics. We also encourage proposals that include clear ties to scholarship of teaching and learning.


Open Access Textbooks

Our Unit welcomes papers that foster open discussion about and analysis of Open Educational Resources (OER). Many educators, including those teaching in community college settings and elsewhere, are being encouraged to move away from expensive textbooks towards the use of no-cost instructional materials. What are best practices for assessing OER? How might we, as an academy of educators and subject-matter experts, work together to create more high-quality, no-cost, and open instructional material to support our students?


Teaching Across Career and in the Contemporary Academy: A Conversation with AAR Teaching Award Winners

This pre-arranged roundtable will feature past winners of the AAR Teaching Award with a focus on topics such as: what it means to be a "seasoned" teacher in this time of change in the academy; what it means, as a teacher, to make an exit from the academy; and, any wisdom winners can offer new teachers about teaching across career. This session will also include reflections about the teaching in relation to DEI as well as the academy since/after COVID. This will be a roundtable session centered around discussion rather than formal presentations.


Publishing on Teaching

In this pre-arranged panel, representatives from journals focused on the scholarship of teaching as well as scholars with substantial experience publishing about teaching in a variety of formats will discuss the ins and outs of pedagogical publishing as related to the fields of religious studies and theology.


Open Call

We invite proposals for individual papers and panel sessions that join innovative teaching practice with the scholarship of teaching and learning. Preference will be given to presentation formats that model engaged, interactive, and experiential pedagogy. We also regularly host an annual session on “Teaching Tactics,” which features lightning-round presentations (5-7 minutes total) of a specific teaching technique, assignment, etc.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit critically examines pedagogical theory and practice. We invite proposals that join innovative teaching practice with the scholarship of teaching and learning. Preference will be given to presentation formats that model engaged, interactive, and experiential pedagogy.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection