Jeremiah Cataldo, Ph.D.
Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, Bethel College; Master of Ministry, Bethel College; Master of Philosophy, Drew University; Doctor of Philosophy in Religion and Culture of Ancient Israel/Hebrew Bible, Drew University
What do you like most about teaching at Grand Valley?
I like Grand Valley's emphasis on the success of its students, its concern for cultivating active engagement both in the classroom and with respect to course curriculum. I think that Grand Valley has shown itself to be among those institutions on the leading edge in this regard.
What is your favorite class to teach?
I don't know that I have one favorite. My Honors College sequence in Alliance and Conflict, which deals with the dialectical relationship between religion and society, has been exciting to teach. It analyzes religion as a cultural product, and gives the students and I a chance to explore different social structures and processes that lie behind the formation of religious beliefs. Discussions always seem to be multivalent. The students that come into the classroom have varying religious backgrounds. That makes it fun. Also, my History Journal course. This course has helped me become more well-rounded on a pedagogical level. It has also allowed me to work on a more cooperative level with students. Both of those benefits are due to the course being a high-impact course, which encourages students to take leadership roles in the curriculum. In this case, producing an undergraduate history journal. So far, the journal has been well-received and praised as being of a high quality. In addition, it is exciting to see the students' enthusiasm for the journal not only throughout the course, but also over the publication of a journal issue.
What do students like best about your class?
In reference to my Honors sequence, I think that students like having the opportunity to ask questions about issues they normally wouldn't be able to discuss in other public situations. It is always my goal to construct each class as a cooperative dialogue around a central issue. The feedback from students on having the space and ability to play an active role in course dialogue has been positive.
How do you contribute to the success of your students?
I try to develop a relationship with each student in such a way that I can not only help them achieve and be successful in the course, but that they also develop skills that are important to them beyond the course. Toward that end, I make a concerted effort to know my students on a personal level.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Take the time to get to know your professors. We want to help you be successful.
What is the most rewarding aspect about teaching at Grand Valley?
For me, it is found in watching the repeated successes of students at Grand Valley. This is due both to the individual capabilities and dedication of Grand Valley's students, but also the university's encouragement of its faculty. The university has cultivated an environment in which faculty members can pursue individual research interests and bring those interests into the classroom. That, I believe, has had a positive impact upon the university's students. Students see the passion of their faculty members, which can be a source or moment of inspiration.
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