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Encountering Faith in the Classroom: Turning Difficult Discussions into Constructive Engagement

Encountering Faith in the Classroom: Turning Difficult Discussions into Constructive Engagement (Paperback)

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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.

Miriam R. Diamond is a faculty developer and coordinator of the Society for Values in Higher Education's Religion and Public Life Project. She was formerly Associate Director for Faculty Programs at Northwestern University's Searle Center for Teaching Excellence She is co-author of Chalk Talk: E-Advice from Jonas Chalk, Legendary College Teacher.

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