Summer Seminars on Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology
The curriculum for the first full week of each cohort has already been preplanned by the TRP Planning Committee (see Draft Schedule of Week One).
The curriculum for the second week of each cohort will be planned in collaboration with the participants themselves. That second stage of curricular development will begin at the very end of the first week-long seminar and will continue at the AAR Annual Meeting. A major allotment of time during the second summer will be given to presentations by faculty participants regarding their teaching and scholarship over the course of the year.
Although organizing three meetings per cohort over the course of a year presents considerable logistical challenges, the TRP Planning Committee and the TESC believe that this structure will enable us to:
- Develop sustained, supportive communication between faculty participants, which will in turn nurture collegial and scholarly relationships;
- Provide faculty participants much needed time to incorporate their learning into teaching and research work;
- Allow faculty participants to present reports of their scholarly and teaching work back to the group;
- Generate a variety of publication projects on scholarship and the scholarship of teaching (very little literature of the latter kind can be found in the areas of TRP and comparative theology; faculty remain by and large solo operators and there is as yet little in the way of a shared sense about what courses in these areas might look like. We are aware of only one event — hosted by Hartford Seminary — in which faculty gathered to exchange and discuss their syllabi);
- Generate sustained collaborative conversation about how to implement projects at faculty members’ home institutions; and
- Offer expert scholarly support for faculty as they transition into new areas of teaching and scholarship, a necessarily time-intensive process.
The mid-year meeting in the Fall during the Annual Meeting of the AAR is intended to accomplish the following:
- Reconvene faculty seminar participants to enrich conversation and deepen relationships;
- Consult with faculty about what kinds of further work they would like to see happen during Summer Two; and
- Debrief with each other about their experiences in incorporating engagement with TRP and comparative theology into faculty scholarship and teaching.
The second week of work during Summer Two is intended to accomplish the following:
- Consolidate what faculty seminar participants have learned over the course of the previous year;
- Allow faculty participants to present the result of their scholarly and teaching work to the group as a whole;
- Aid in helping faculty to make the transition from relative beginners in TRP and comparative theology to scholar-teachers with some measure of expertise in these areas;
- Plan together for institutionalizing TRP and comparative theology in some appropriate way at their home institutions;
- Consult with TRP and comparative theology experts about their scholarly and teaching projects;
- Invite faculty experts to address questions and problems that were either insufficiently addressed during Summer One or proceed into greater depth on select issues, a depth not possible in a first summer; and
- Address a broader set of issues regarding the intersection between religious diversity and public life: pluralism and politics, religious diversity and Islamophobia, religious diversity and “tolerance.” Evaluate what TRP and comparative theology have to say to this nexus of issues.