Introduction to Religious Education

Spring 2017
T 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Area IV
MDIV Requirements: 
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

In this course we will explore theories and practices of religious education within Christian communities. In particular we will explore and begin to formulate perspectives on the purpose, function, contexts, and methods of religious education. The course will be guided by two essential questions posed by religious educator Mary Boys:

·         “What does it mean to be religious?” and

·         “What does it mean to educate in faith, to educate persons to the religious dimensions of life?”

Boys’ guiding questions push us to think about how our understandings of religion and religious education are historically situated, and how these understandings reflect specific theological and pedagogical commitments. Answering these questions also requires us to explore the perceived and real challenges to living and growing as persons of faith in our U.S. and global communities. For example, in this course we explore how persons and communities of faith educate in ways that foster theological reflection and constructive responses to myriad challenges such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, poverty, and social class disparities, among others.

This course is primarily oriented towards the practices of religious communities and institutions, such as churches and para-church organizations. However, the issues and contexts explored can connect with a variety of settings including families, community organizations, and schools. 

Background Expected: 


Course Requirements: 

A full list of readings will be on the course syllabus.

1)      CLASS PARTICIPATION:  (15% of final grade) Participation includes completing the readings before the class meeting for which they are listed for discussion.

2)      A BIBLICAL MODEL OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: (20% of final grade) Students will write a five-paragraph (max. 1000 word) paper on Walter Brueggemann’s The Creative Word, outlining the major points of the author’s argument and concluding with your analysis of the argument. Guidelines will be given in class.

3)      Curriculum Analysis: (20% of final grade) A three-page analysis of a curriculum resource. Guidelines will be given in class.

4)      Contextual Analysis: (20% of final grade) Using Eisner’s concepts of the three curricula all schools teach, students will offer a five-page analysis of an educational event in an ecclesial context. Students will also utilize the tools of ethnographic thick description to analyze and attend to the varied details of the education event. Guidelines for the paper will be distributed in class

5)      FINAL PAPER: (25%, 7-10 pages) For the final paper, students will be given an opportunity to design an educational event or curriculum for addressing themes which have emerged over the course of the semester (from the readings, practices, or class discussions). The student will attempt to address one area where the course materials/themes have challenged or been challenged by a current ecclesial or community context. Guidelines for the paper will be distributed in class. 

Basis of Evaluation: 

See above for percentage of grade assigned to each course requirement.