Five new fellows teaching Journey courses
There are now five teaching fellows taking over Journey of Transformation and Christianity and Culture in Dialogue, each teaching three sections of Core as of this academic year, according to the director of core curriculum Dr. Anthony Sciglitano.
The Teaching Fellows program at Seton Hall began in the 2011-2012 academic year when the university hired three fellows to specialize in teaching Core.
Sciglitano said this semester there are 79 sections of the two Core classes combined, which is more than usual because of the unusually large freshman class.
Unlike adjuncts, teaching fellows are full-time but short-term professors, receiving all the same benefits as full-time faculty except retirement. They are all given their own office and are available on campus to students just like any other professor, according to Sciglitano.
Sciglitano said because the Core is a combination of theology, philosophy, religious studies and history, no faculty member has ever been trained to specialize in the Core.
Each of the fellows is a specialist in at least one of the areas, and, as expert readers, writers and critical thinkers, they are quickly able to become familiar with the other topics, according to Sciglitano.
Sciglitano added that they also have scheduled meetings to help one another grasp what material is important to each subject.
Dr. George Faithful, one of the first teaching fellows at Seton Hall, believes that this is “the best job imaginable as a new faculty member,” especially in a tough job market.
“The beauty of teaching these things at Seton Hall is that, because of the diversity of both the faculty and student body, any position on any topic of conversation is fair game,” said Faithful.
Even though the program is still new, Sciglitano said he is very confident in the young, energetic and committed teachers that have been hired.
“The original vision of the Core was to have only faculty with terminal degrees teaching in their normal course load,” he said.
However, staffing the Core each year became a difficulty with faculty already having full course loads within their own departments. While faculty members were offered stipends to take on the extra courses, the overload of courses was seen as a detriment to ensuring that professors could focus on all of their courses, according to Sciglitano.
Faithful said the position of teaching fellows has also created a solution to the scheduling problem.
“Because we are not juggling a ton of different courses, but teach several sections of one course each semester instead, we are able to focus our energies on teaching the Core,” Faithful said.
The teaching fellows at Seton Hall are on two-year contracts, according to Sciglitano.
“Having a two-year contract also provides us a full summer for our own research and writing, which we will need to secure long-term positions, whether here or elsewhere,” Faithful said.
Summers also give the fellows time to prepare for the upcoming school year so that they can build on top of their experiences from the previous year, according to Faithful.
Sciglitano added that with the difficult job market, these fellowship positions are extremely desired and competitive.
“We received 90 applications within a week of placing the ad that brought the current fellows to Seton Hall,” Sciglitano said.
Sciglitano said he believes that the university will continue the Teaching Fellows program in the future.
“It has been quite successful up to this point,” he said.
Sciglitano added that the program may not stay exactly the way it is because the University may want to adjust the program according to the feedback they receive from the faculty.
“However, the details may change over time as we receive more feedback on the positions from involved faculty or from the fellows themselves.”
Kristyn Lyncheski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.