Encountering Faith in the Classroom
Turning Difficult Discussions into Constructive Engagement

Foreword by Art Chickering
Paper: 978 1 57922 237 6 / $29.95
Published: April 2008  

Cloth: 978 1 57922 236 9 / $95.00
Published: April 2008  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
242 pp., 6" x 9"
When faculty unexpectedly encounter students’ religious ideologies in the classroom, they may respond with apprehension, frustration, dread, or concern. Instructors may view this exchange as a confrontation that threatens the very heart of empirical study, and worry that this will lead to a dead-end in the learning process.

The purpose of this book is to explore what happens—and what can happen—in the higher education, and even secondary school, classroom when course content meets or collides with students' religious beliefs. It also considers the impact on learning in an environment where students may feel threatened, angry, misunderstood, or in which they feel their convictions are being discredited,

This is a resource that offers ways of conceptualizing, engaging with, and responding to, student beliefs. This book is divided into three sections: student views on the role of religion in the classroom; general guidelines for responding to or actively engaging religious beliefs in courses (such as legal and diversity considerations); and specific examples from a number of disciplines (including the sciences, social sciences, humanities and professional education). Professors from public, private, and religious institutions share their findings and insights.

The resounding lessons of this book are the importance of creating a learning space in which students can express their beliefs, dissonance, and emotions constructively, without fear of retribution; and of establishing ground rules of respectful discussion for this process to be valuable and productive.

This is an inspirational and practical guide for faculty navigating the controversial, sensitive—yet illuminating—lessons that can be learned when religion takes a seat in the classroom.

Table of Contents:
Foreword—Art Chickering
Introduction: Faith in Learning: An Overview—Miriam Rosalyn Diamond and Christina Copre

1) Faith and Reason: Higher Education’s Opportunities and Challenges—Nancy L. Thomas and Ann Marie B. Bahr
Appendix: Wingspread Declaration on Religion and Public Life

2) Undergraduate Perspectives About Religion in Higher Education—Lois Calian Trautvetter
3) Faith in Graduate Education: Perspectives of Students and Faculty in Student Affairs Preparation Programs—Judy L. Rogers and Patrick G. Love

4) Blinking in the Sunlight: Exploring the Fundamentalist Perspective – Peggy Catron
5) What I Think I Believe: Using the CHANGE Method to Resolve Cognitive Dissonance—Tamara H. Rosier
6) Bringing Faith and Spirituality into the Classroom: An African American Perspective—Mark S. Giles, Odelet Nance and Noelle Witherspoon
7) Religion in the Classroom: Legal Issues—Barbara A. Lee

8) Exploring Religion and Spirituality through Academic Service-Learning—Kent Koth
9) Philosophy and Religious Disagreements in the College Classroom—Dona Warren
10) When Faith and Science Collide—Mano Singham
11) Teaching Secular Bible Reading to Religiously Committed Students—Roger G. Baker
12) The Role of Religion and Spirituality in the Law School Classroom—David Hall
13) Teaching About Religious and Spiritual Pluralism in a Professional Education Course—Robert J. Nash and Sue M. Baskette

Afterword—Miriam Rosalyn Diamond
About the Authors

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Reviews & Endorsements:
"Among the many volumes now available on religion and spirituality in higher education, this one stands out for moving beyond basic description and broad prescription to a discussion of actual pedagogical practice... Encountering Faith in the Classroom is an important book for professors of theology and religious studies to read."
- Teaching Theology and Religion