November 21, 2002
Scholars Representing a Variety of Faith
Traditions and Academic Disciplines
When Whitworth History Professor Arlin Migliazzo began teaching at a church-related college, he couldn't find resources that provided practical, tested pedagogical strategies to help him relate faith perspectives to teaching. After more than 20 years of teaching at church-related institutions, Migliazzo has remedied that omission with a new book, Teaching as an Act of Faith: Theory and Practice in Church-Related Higher Education (2002, Fordham University Press).
Teaching as an Act of Faith features essays written by veteran scholars who have spent years honing their theological understanding and teaching strategies at a wide variety of church-related colleges and universities. The essayists represent 14 disciplines and five faith perspectives - Roman Catholic, Anabaptist, Wesleyan, Reformed, and Lutheran.
The book's essays are organized into four sections - the social sciences, the natural sciences, the fine arts, and the humanities - and are framed with an introduction and conclusion by Migliazzo. The book also includes appendices with a selected bibliography of works about Christianity and higher education, and information about ecumenical Christian professional associations.
"This book is unique in the literature that is currently available, which is mostly theoretical," Migliazzo says. "The reason the title includes the phrase 'Theory and Practice' is because I asked the essayists to outline their assumptions and backgrounds, and then share how they incorporate Christian faith perspectives legitimately in the classroom through specific assignments and student projects."
In a review of Migliazzo's book, Joel Carpenter, provost of Calvin College, writes that there has been "a long and rich discussion of the relationship between faith and learning within the arts and sciences, but most of this conversation has been about assumptions and theories, not about teaching. Teaching as an Act of Faith should be on the short list of must-read books for professors who want their faith to make a difference in how they teach."
Essay contributors include Charles Wilbur, professor emeritus of economics at Notre Dame University; Elizabeth Murray Morelli, professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University; and Harold Heie, a former math professor who is director of the center for Christian Studies at Gordon College. Other contributors include Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, professor of psychology at Eastern University; Shirley Mullen, professor of history at Westmont College; and Edward Knippers, an artist who has taught at institutions including the University of Tennessee and Asbury College. Knippers is also a founder and board member of Christians in Visual Arts.
Whitworth College professors Lois Kieffaber, Robert Clark, Lee Anne Chaney, and Michael Ingram also contributed essays based on their respective disciplines - physics, sociology, biology and speech communications.
"I think it's helpful for people in higher education to learn about what other faith traditions are doing; that's why I tried to make this book as ecumenical as possible," Migliazzo says. "The wonderful thing about teaching strategies is that they overlap disciplines and are adaptable and transferable. You can be a Lutheran who teaches English and learn teaching strategies from a Quaker who teaches physics."
In the book's foreword, Valparaiso University's Mark Schwehn asserts that not only do the essays provide effective strategies for teachers from a variety of faith traditions; they also provide useful tools for non-Christian teachers.
The essays are "equally engaging and informative to all teacher-scholars, Christian and non-Christian alike, regardless of their fields of specialization. This is a rare achievement for an anthology," Schwehn writes. "In order to improve one's own pedagogy, one must learn from colleagues in several different disciplines, and one must come to understand one's own endeavors as a part of a larger whole whose complexities and diverse practices must constantly inform each of the parts."
Published in November 2002, Teaching as an Act of Faith is available at major bookstores including Barnes & Noble and Borders, as well as online at www.amazon.com.
Arlin Migliazzo is professor of history and director of faculty development at Whitworth College. He holds an M.A. from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. from Washington State University, and has published in the areas of colonial South Carolina history, ethnic studies, Pacific Northwest history, comparative democratic development, and the history and culture of higher education. In addition to Teaching as an Act of Faith, Migliazzo is the author of the book Lands of True and Certain Bounty, the first comprehensive compilation of the writings of 18th-century Swiss explorer and colonial visionary Jean Pierre Prury.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The college enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Arlin Migliazzo, professor of history and director of faculty development, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or email@example.com.