Trauma-informed pedagogy

Teaching amidst the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism? Use trauma-informed pedagogy. My latest article on this topic has just been published: This is part of my ongoing research on pedagogy in higher education. If you are interested in collaborating in further research, contact me.

This article promotes a wider understanding of trauma-informed pedagogy for the higher education classroom, whether in-person or virtual, focusing on undergraduate and graduate teaching in religious studies and theological education. Trauma is not confined to individual experiences of single horrifying events—trauma can be collective (community-wide, e.g., COVID-19), epigenetic (inherited or intergenerational), social-cultural (e.g., racism), or vicarious. Drawing on religious education literature and recent insights from psychology, neuroscience, and public health studies, this article provides a shared basis for further development of trauma-informed pedagogy by religious and theological educators. A principle feature of this article is bibliographic, portraying the state of scholarship at the intersection of religious education and trauma and pointing to resources necessary for further development. It offers a brief survey of extant literature, presents a basic definition and description of trauma, introduces the features of a trauma-informed community approach, and discusses the core values guiding trauma-informed pedagogy. The article also explores religious aspects of trauma and discusses care for instructors, who deal with their own traumatic pasts as well as the secondary effects of encountering, teaching, and supporting traumatized individuals in the religious education classroom. This article concludes with a call for further research.

Darryl W. Stephens, “Trauma-Informed Pedagogy for the Religious and Theological Higher Education Classroom,” 2020

Coming soon: The fall 2020 issue of Spotlight on Teaching in Religious Studies News, a publication of the American Academy of Religion will be devoted to trauma-informed pedagogy. Look for it in late November.