Doctoral Students Professionalization Workshops in Theology
Here is a list of workshops offered every year by the theology department for doctoral students, first described year-by-year according to the sequence of a student’s doctoral training and then organized month-by-month according to each year’s academic calendar. These workshops correspond to the training that students already receive in the Ph.D. program year-by-year: two years of coursework, a year of comprehensive exams, proposals submitted the fall of year 4, dissertation writing through year 5 or 6, job search in year 5 or 6.
These workshops are facilitated by rotating department faculty representing different fields of studies, as well as by doctoral students further along in the Ph.D. program where appropriate.
These workshops are mandatory for all students in the respective years of the doctoral program. In addition to covering the topics listed, each meeting serves as a “cohort meeting” to check in with students of each year and think about next steps for the year ahead (e.g. the Introduction to Professional Development workshop for first year students would also be a chance to check in about course work and talk about the coming year of GTA work and comprehensive exam planning).
In addition to these workshops, ALL returning doctoral students in years 2-5 would attend a mandatory cohort specific reorientation held on the same day as new student orientation and the first scheduled language exams, usually the Monday before classes start for the fall semester.
1st Year of Ph.D. Program:
- Orientation (Fall – Monday before classes begin): Students meet one another; learn about the program and requirements; overview of the first year ahead; practical tips for how professionally to conduct oneself in graduate school; workshop about how to make the most of coursework and their first year of the Ph.D. program. Followed by language exams.
- Introduction to Professional Development and Looking Ahead to Year 2 (Spring): Workshop dedicated to teaching students the basics that go into publishing articles (e.g. what is an article-length argument? How can you turn a seminar paper into an article?); writing book reviews (e.g. how do you read a book to identify its argument, analysis, stakes? How do you evaluate an argument? How do you communicate a book’s main ideas and contributions succinctly, generously, and critically?); participating in conferences (e.g. finding CFPs, writing and submitting abstract, applying for travel funding, etc.); and applying for summer research grants and other resources/strategies for effectively pursuing research (e.g. summer research grants and other opportunities within the university). This workshop would also cover the basics of GTA work and introducing comprehensive exams (timeline, how to begin choosing comprehensive exam fields, etc.) as students look ahead to their second year in the doctoral program.
2nd Year of Ph.D. Program:
- Course Conception and Syllabus Drafting (Spring, as part of “Teaching Theology” Seminar that all 2nd-years take): As part of this course, students learn about pedagogy in general; about teaching theology at Fordham in particular; and about designing courses; their final assignment is to construct a syllabus and set of assignments for FCR that they will use the following fall when they begin teaching.
- Preparing for Comprehensive Exams (Spring – at the end of the semester once students know their fields and examiners): Workshop dedicated to helping students think ahead to comprehensive exams (e.g. explaining the practical aspects including dates of exams, reading lists, contact with examiners; and more preparation-oriented advice such as how to think about the reading lists, how best to read and prepare, how to work together with examiners, new electronic note-taking technologies that can be of help, work-life balance, stress management, etc.).
3rd Year of Ph.D. Program:
- New Teachers Check-in (Fall): Meeting for all students teaching for the first time, to check in, see how their semester is going, share challenges and problem-solve.
- Dissertation Proposal Writing Workshop (Spring – after comprehensive exams are over): Workshop to help students understand what a dissertation is, how to come up with a good topic and plan, and how to write a proposal; provides handouts with specific field-of-study and/or wing requirements for proposals.
4th Year of Ph.D. Program:
- Article Publishing, Social Media Presence, and CV Workshop (Fall): Workshop designed to teach students about the nitty-gritty steps of publishing journal articles (e.g. the process from writing through submission, review, revision, copy-editing, proofing, etc.) and to help students identify a seminar paper or dissertation chapter they’d like to develop into an article for submission. This workshop would also discuss topics related to social media presence / online publishing (including making a good department website profile); and review the genre of the CV, provide students with good CV examples, and ask students to create their own CVs so that they have a good working draft before they go on the job market and so that they can see what aspects of their CVs they’d like to strengthen in the year or two before they go on the job market.
- Teaching and Diversity Statement Workshop (Spring – this can take place early in the spring semester): Two-part workshop dedicated to introducing the genre of “teaching statement” and “diversity statement.” Students will need to submit teaching and diversity statements when they apply for jobs, and this workshop would get them to begin writing about their own teaching and reflect on diversity in their teaching and scholarship in preparation for job applications. In the first workshop, students will learn about how most effectively to write about teaching and diversity, read some compelling examples of teaching and diversity statements, and brainstorm with one another about what they might write in theirs. In the second workshop, 2 weeks later, students will bring drafts of their teaching and diversity statements with them in order to workshop them with partners and then together with the group.
- Fellowships and Job Market Meeting (Spring – at the end of the semester, for all fourth-years, even those not planning on being on the job market in the fall): Workshop that introduces students to the fellowship and job market process from finding fellowship and job advertisements to submitting applications to interviewing and negotiating; outlines for students the kinds of application materials they will be asked to submit; details the components each application document needs to have and what makes a strong application (e.g. cover letters, teaching statements, research statements, diversity statements, letters of recommendation, evidence of teaching excellence, etc.); sends student off with a mandate to write drafts of proposals/cover letters/and teaching/research/diversity statements to be shared with dissertation mentors at the beginning of the fall semester and thereafter with the placement coordinator for feedback as they revise for specific fellowships and jobs.
5th Year of Ph.D. Program:
- Interview Workshop (Fall – in November, a few weeks before SBL/AAR interviews)
- Job Market Retrospective (Spring): Panel that brings together students who were recently on the job market or who have recently taken jobs in academia and in other fields, to reflect on the process of job-searching and to offer advice to those who are embarking on this journey for the first time. This panel can be scheduled is held conjunction with the Job Market Meeting held in the spring (see above under 4th Year).
- Job Market one-on-one consultation with, and application editing by, job placement coordinator and dissertation committee members.
- Interview workshop; mock interviews, job talks, teaching demos (as needed).
Floating Seminars and Workshops:
- Annual department pedagogy workshop that brings together faculty and graduate students to share teaching ideas around certain themes (e.g. diversity, race, gender, service learning, material culture, using resources in NYC, assignments, technology in the classroom, social media, class trips/experiential learning, using Fordham’s library resources in the classroom, strategies for teaching writing, focusing on ideas specific to FCR or STT, etc.).
- When appropriate, meetings for graduate student groups, to hear how they are doing and how we can better support them (e.g. students of color; women; LGBTQ; parents; etc.)
- Town Hall with the Department Chair and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies once per semester; perhaps followed by a more informal conversation about issues that are on the minds of graduate students (e.g. work-life balance)
Proposed Month-by-Month Calendar:
Late August: Orientation (1st years) and Re-orientation (2nd-5th years)
September: Article Publishing, Social Media, and CV Workshop (4th years)
October: New Teachers Check-in (3rd years)
November: Interview Workshop/Mock Interviews (5th years and other students on the job market)
February: Teaching and Diversity Statement Workshop (4th years)
March: Introduction to Professional Development and Looking Ahead to Year Two (1st years)
April: Preparing for Comprehensive Exams (2nd years)
April/Early May: Fellowships and Job Market Meeting (4th years and anyone on the market in the fall), in conjunction with the Job Market Retrospective (5th years and anyone on the market in the fall)
Early May (after comps): Dissertation Proposal Writing Workshop (3rd years)
Spring semester: Course Conception and Syllabus Drafting (2nd years), as part of “Teaching Theology” course
Entire year: Application editing, mock interviews/job talks/teaching demoes (5th years and beyond)
Once each semester: Town Hall Meeting with Department Chair and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies
Once per year: Department-wide workshop related to pedagogy
At any point in the year: Meetings for particular groups of graduate students across cohorts
Please contact the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies with any questions.