Faculty Stories

Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh Receives Wabash Center Grant and Symposium Invitation

Dr. Anne Joh and Wabash Center Logo

The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion has awarded Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh, professor of theology and culture at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a grant for her project, “Toward a Trauma-Informed Pedagogy during a Global Pandemic and Remote Learning in Theological Education.” In addition, Joh was also invited by Wabash Center to participate in their year-long symposium, “Teaching and Improvisation: Virtual Symposium Using Creativity Pedagogy.”

Joh’s project focuses on providing support for faculty of color who are engaged in the holistic academic formation of students during a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant and rapidly shifting challenges to theological education. Faculty now find themselves inhabiting roles besides teacher – such as a coach, therapist, pastor, parent. For faculty of color, the emotional toll of navigating these multiple roles is further complicated by the individual and collective experiences of their communities, which have been disproportionally impacted by the responses to the pandemic. With support from the grant, Joh will provide a “holding environment,” through monthly conversations with faculty of color where they can share and process how the pandemic has affected them as educators, collaboratively create best practices in the classroom during the pandemic, examine and articulate the traumatizing effects of COVID-19 with particular focus on its racialized and classed dimensions, and become better informed about the specifics of trauma-informed pedagogies.

“The grant is a critical opportunity to create a holding place for listening to one another as we, faculty of color, also grapple with a multiplicity of struggles even as we are challenged to create and hold teaching spaces that are life-giving for our students in the midst of on-going traumas during this time,” said Joh.

In addition to the grant, Joh will also be participating in the Wabash Center’s “Teaching and Improvisation: Virtual Symposium Using Creativity Pedagogy,” an invitation-only symposium led by five-time Grammy-award bass guitar player Victor Wooten. Joh will join a cohort of other teaching scholars to learn how to incorporate improvisation as a pedagogical and spiritual practice into their teaching and learning life. The hope is that the symposium participants will get a deeper sense of the teaching life in terms of imagination, performance, artistry, and creativity.

Joh has been member of the Garrett-Evangelical faculty since 2009. In 2017, she was promoted to full professor which made her the first Korean American female full professor in systematic theology in the United States. Joh’s research and scholarship has focused on post/decolonialism, critical ethnic/race and Asian American studies, feminist, queer and affect theories, and constructive theology. In addition to her work at the seminary, Joh works closely with the United Methodist Women of Color Doctoral Program; the Forum for Theological Exploration Doctoral Fellowship Program; the Pacific, Asian, and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry, a network of women focusing on doctoral students and women in ministry and theological education; and the Asian Theological Summer Institute, a one week intensive mentoring for doctoral students from an Asian background.

The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion supports theology and religion faculty and doctoral students reflecting on their teaching practice — in both theological education and undergraduate education, in the United States and Canada. The Center facilitates faculty conversations about the goals and processes of teaching and student learning, and their programming develops faculty skills for critical reflection on teaching practice.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.