Collaborative undergraduate research is a growing focus of Centre College faculty and students, and Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy David Hall is doing his part to bring such projects to Centre’s religion program.
Thanks to funding from the Associated Colleges of the South’s (ACS) Faculty Advancement Grants, Hall will partner with Drs. Ruben Dupertuis of Trinity University and Milton Moreland of Rhodes College to explore ways in which research skills can be better incorporated into the religious studies curriculum.
“One challenge that we face as teachers of religion is how to introduce students to the wide array of methods in the critical study of religion and how to give them the skills to employ those methods effectively,” Hall explains. “Our aim is to articulate a ‘scaffolding approach’ that leads students progressively deeper into method and how to use it.”
Essentially, students would be introduced to research methods as early as possible in their introductory religious studies courses; as they progress through more advanced classes, faculty would foster their abilities to conduct independent research and work on collaborative projects with faculty.
“As a teacher of religious studies, I’m always on the lookout for effective ways to bring students to a critical understanding of religion,” Hall explains. “This looks like a particularly promising direction, and I’m very much looking forward to getting into the research.
This work meets up with some other initiatives the College is already working on,” he continues, “including working groups on incorporating undergraduate research more meaningfully into the culture of Centre.”
As part of the grant, Hall and his research colleagues will present a joint paper on their findings at the November 2015 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
“We hope that the reach of our project extends beyond our respective institutions to contribute to similar research that is already in the public square,” Hall says.
The trio also plans to publish an essay on their finding in the peer-reviewed journal “Religious Studies in Teaching Theology and Religion.”
By Mariel Smith