Mark Unno

Religious Studies | 541-346-4973

Courses: REL 101 World Religions: Asian Traditions; REL 353 Dark Self East & West; REL 440 Buddhist Scriptures

In my classes you will:

  • Attain greater cultural and historical perspective and make connections to lived experiences.
  • Practice foundational, transferrable skills.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I am a Herman Award Recipient.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

I teach courses that contain diverse, often conflicting views, representing a wide range of backgrounds and intellectual frameworks. Students are encouraged to form bridges across ideological and cultural divides through theoretical and concrete narrative materials, as well as various audio-visual media.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

I have been fortunate to participate in many teaching and learning activities including: the leadership team of a two-year workshop of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion (20140-16), the Coleman-Guitteau Teaching and Research Professorship (2009-10), the Wulf Professorship in the Humanities (2005-06), the Humanities Center Teaching Fellowship (2005-06), and the Rippey Innovative Teaching Award (2005-07, 09-13). All of these opportunities have enhanced my teaching and learning experience and continue to enrich my pedagogy.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

The most significant aspect of research-led teaching is to work with students on topics that have driven my own research, such as Classical Japanese Buddhism, Comparative Religious Thought, and Buddhism and Psychotherapy. Students have inspired insights which I have credited in my own publications, and students have gone on to do graduate work that was stimulated in their undergraduate learning in my courses. Central to this work is the cultivation of expository writing skills which in many ways crystallize the academic learning process of becoming competent in close reading, discussion and debate, and achieving a high level of articulacy.

What made you want to become a teacher?

I wanted to become a teacher because I was inspired by great teachers and because I wanted to explore with diverse groups of students a wide range of topics representing the rich field of Asian religions and religious studies. There are 'ah-hah' moments in which the whole class seems to come to a moment of shared inspiration, not infrequently marked by a deep silence in which everyone seems to join in in appreciation. Each student, and each group of students brings fresh energy, passion, engagement, and insights, and that is what keeps me wanting to come to class.