Assistant Director, Teaching Area

Contact Info

Courses Taught

REL 200: Exploring Religion
REL 300: Religion and Popular Culture (Special Topics)
REL 101H: Religions of the World (Honors)


          B.A. – Colgate University
          M.A. – University of Virginia
          Ph.D. – University of Virginia


Dr. Emily O. Gravett is Assistant Director of the Teaching Area in the Center for Faculty Innovation and Assistant Professor in the Philosophy & Religion department. She earned her B.A. from Colgate University in English and Religion and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. After serving as an assistant director for a teaching and learning center in San Antonio, Texas, for three years, she was delighted to return to the beautiful state of Virginia to join the JMU faculty. She loves supporting the growth of her colleagues and feels continually inspired by their commitment to students, pedagogical innovation, and ongoing professional development. While Emily is grateful for the opportunity to engage in a wide range of teaching conversations, particular areas of interest include: course design, active learning, formative and authentic assessment, discussion leading, writing instruction, scaffolded assignments, and inclusive classroom communities. These are the same interests that drive her own teaching, which she has been at for nearly 10 years, in courses such as Religion and Film or Religions of the World.

With a diverse and ever-evolving scholarly agenda, Emily has presented and published on biblical reception, religious studies pedagogy, educational development, as well as her own experiences in the classroom with students. She is highly involved in the national organization of educational developers (POD). Outside of work, Emily enjoys spending time with her family, watching NFL games, hiking, reading poetry, eating tacos, and frequenting Kline’s.

Research Interests

Educational Development. Emily is committed to turning a reflective and critical lens on the profession often known as educational development. Since she joined its ranks in 2011, she has been interested in the distinct benefits and challenges its members face, the common paths and available entry points into the profession, the influence of gender on the work and identity of its professionals, and the nature of co-authorship in such a collaborative field. Now that she is part of the CFI team, she is excited to work alongside her colleagues to add research about the center’s own programs and processes to her scholarly agenda.

Religious Studies Pedagogy. Because of her disciplinary background, Emily is also committed to exploring the pedagogy of religious studies. A current project looks at the important role of motivation in religious studies classrooms, particularly given some of the expectations about what the scholarly study of religion should entail. This line of research also includes studies that Emily hopes to conduct about her own teaching and her own students, such as ways to better facilitate discussion or the efficacy of commonly recommended classroom activities like the one-minute paper. 

Select Publications

Gravett, E. & Bernhagen, L. (2018). “Ways of Doing: Feminist Educational Development,” To Improve the Academy, Special Issue: The One Thing.

Gravett, E. (2018). “Note-Taking during Discussion: Using a Weekly Reflection Assignment to Motivate Students to Learn from their Peers,” College Teaching.

Gravett, E. (2018). “Lost in the Great Divide: Motivation in Religious Studies Classrooms,” Teaching Theology and Religion.

Gravett, E. (2017). “Tracing a Developer’s Development: A Self-Study in Teaching,” International Journal for Academic Development.

Bernhagen, L. & Gravett, E. (2016). “Educational Development as Pink Collar Labor: Implications and Recommendations,” To Improve the Academy.

Gravett, E. (2016). “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Religious Studies,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

Poe, S. & Gravett, E. (2016). “Acknowledging Students’ Collaborations through Peer-Review: A Footnoting Practice,” College Teaching.

Gravett, E. & Bernhagen, L. (2015). “A View from the Margins: Situating Teaching Center Staff in Organizational Development,” To Improve the Academy.

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