Who teaches us?

My time at Yale Divinity School is coming to an end. As I’ve been thinking back over it these past few days, I decided to do a little math. The results may only be of interest to me but here’s what I came up with.

In my time at YDS, I’ve taken 22 courses. (You need 24 to graduate. I did a semester abroad, which I’m not counting here.)

Of those 22, 18 were taught or co-taught by male faculty. Seven were taught or co-taught by female faculty. That means only four courses I took were taught solely by a woman.

Nine were taught by ordained faculty members (and one has been ordained since), though I’ve learned that different faculty wear their ordination differently. For some, it barely seems to register in their consciousness.

Four of those 22 courses were taught by non-white faculty, all of whom were male. (And three of those courses, oddly, were taken in the same semester.)

I can’t figure the age breakdown, though I’d guess my faculty have ranged in age from a few years older than me to close to or past retirement.

So what to make of these figures? I don’t think I steered deliberately in any one direction. Many of the courses I’ve taken were required and many of those are taught by white, male faculty.

One thing for sure is that whom we are taught by shapes who we become. The faculty I’ve had courses with are the ones to whom I turn most readily for advice and input on my life and career. How should I feel about the fact that the majority of courses I took were taught by people who are like me? And how will that shape what I do in the future?

Do you think this breakdown is reflective of something specific to Yale or is it generalizable across seminaries?

In any event, interesting questions to reflect on as I prepare to leave this place. Maybe at some point—when I’m really procrastinating—I’ll look back through old syllabi and figure out the breakdown of the books I was assigned to read.

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