Institute of Faith and the Academy Faculty Development
Faculty Development: Encouraging Faith-Learning Integration
Each month, one faculty member teaches other faculty from all colleges to discuss a theoretical model, a pedagogical technique, or an idea they are trying in the classroom. Each presentation encourages the integration of faith and learning from the faculty member’s individual discipline and expertise. Through these discussions, we generate ideas across the curriculum and learn to facilitate a faith perspective in all aspects of teaching.
Josh Fullman, Associate Professor of English presented on the four levels of interpretation in the medieval period. Using the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo and Dante Aligheri, Dr. Fullman demonstrated how a biblical or literary text can be understood literally, allegorically, morally, and anagogically. Extrapolating from those perspectives, an instructor from any discipline can teach a concept at all four of those levels. The literal level identifies the concept or phenomenon; the allegorical explains the deeper meaning, or the why; the moral provides a personal application to the student; and the anagogical reveals how Christ is seen in the concept. For example, using these different levels of understanding an economist can teach about the many facets of capitalism, a math professor can explain integers, or a biologist can point to the structures and ethics of how the endocrine system functions.
Leslie Cowell, Dean of the College of Education presented an application of the mission of the College. Dr. Cowell observed that the objectives of her faculty are to educate educators who are competent in their field and who serve others with integrity. These objectives can be developed into four guiding truths: (1) Everyone was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), (2) Integrity of character in all things (Prov. 11:3), (3) All should continually seek to grow in knowledge (Prov. 18:15), and (4) Connect the unconnected to Christ (Mark 16:15). Dr. Cowell then motivated all of the faculty in each college to think about what they teach, as it is filtered through the lens of Scripture; who they teach, noting that each individual is made in God’s image; and how they teach, as they live out their mission.
Todd Brenneman, Associate Professor of Christian History spoke on teaching all subjects through a Christian worldview. What is meant by worldview, he explained, is a shared grand story of human history, which for Christianity can be shortened to Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Creation, according to Scripture is, good and ordered, which can be found in the biological and physical sciences, and purposeful, as seen in business. The Fall depicts man’s sin and the disorder of the world, topics that could easily be explored through psychology and criminal justice. Redemption, the culmination of humanity’s experience, reveals the work of Christ in restoring creation, a frequent subject of the arts and humanities.
James Guy, Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences presented from the perspective of a psychologist. Frequently defending itself against accusations of ungodliness, the psychological profession should rather emphasize that all learning is God’s learning. Professors, in fact, are called to discover the truth of God in the world – regardless of their profession. As an example, Dr. Guy took Freud’s model of the Id, Ego, and Superego and applied it to the Christian model of the psyche (the flesh, the will, and the moral being). He demonstrated how the Freudian model and the Christian model are not necessarily at odds, as can be depicted in Paul’s internal struggle against sin (Rom. 7:21-24). Ultimately, he concludes, we should teach our students “to search for Him in a world that can be godly or ungodly – depending on us.”
One of the most immediate methods of encouraging the integration of faith and learning and communicating across disciplines on campus is through reading groups. Once a month, Faulkner faculty come together to discuss a book, explored over the course of a year, and share insights on theory, pedagogy, and scholarship.
Recent books studied
2016-17. Sertillanges, A.G. The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. Trans. Mary Ryan. Cork, Ireland: The Catholic University of America Press, 1987.
2015-16. Allen, Patrick and Kenneth Badley. Faith and Learning: A Guide for Faculty. Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2014.
2014-15. Liberal Arts and the Christian Life. Eds. Jeffry C. Davis and Philip G. Ryken. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.
2013-14. Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning. Eds. David I. Smith and James K. A. Smith. Grand Rapids, MI: Ererdman’s, 2011.
Faith-Learning Integration Series
Our IFA committee meets with departments and colleges, developing ideas and strategies to integrate faith and learning into every class and syllabus, so that our students see all of creation as belonging to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.