Todd Hanneken stands outside Blume Library.
Todd Hanneken

St. Mary’s University is among two universities to receive a grant this fall from Atla to fund the creation of open educational resources. 

The grant to Blume Library will support the creation of a modular, open textbook supplemented with primary source readings and community-created content for the undergraduate Core Curriculum course Foundations of Reflection: God.  

Established in 1946 as the American Theological Library Association, Atla is a membership association of librarians and information professionals, and a producer of research tools, committed to advancing the study of religion and theology. The goal of the Atla OER Grant Program is to encourage experimentation and innovation in finding new and potentially better and less costly ways to deliver learning materials to theological and religious studies students through open educational resources. 

Todd R. Hanneken, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Theology, and Diane M. Duesterhoeft, Librarian and Professor at the Blume Library, will lead the effort with other faculty members. Together, they will create an open source textbook about theological questions with the help of the $3,500 grant. 

Photo of Diane Duesterhoeft
Diane Duesterhoeft

The textbook will be both integral and modular. It will be integral in that the chapters will follow a common theme of questions Israelites, Jews and Christians have asked in various contexts. The 24 chapters will be sequenced historically and suitable for a semester-long course with two chapters per week.  

The textbook will be modular in that no chapter will assume knowledge from prior chapters. Instructors will be able to use some chapters and not others. The chapters are also designed to be brief and conducive to addition of other perspectives without overwhelming the student with reading assignments. 

Students will access the resources for free in a variety of formats suitable for different screens and screen readers.  

Instructors and students will be able to create and share alternate versions and supplemental modules in collaboration platforms such as Humanities Commons and GitHub. For example, students might supplement the core text on the history of western theological questions with their own reflections or research on non-western religious traditions. 

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