Dr. Kate E. Soules is an education researcher and curriculum developer specializing in religious literacy and teacher education.
Dr. Soules recently completed a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
Her dissertation, “The Impact of Professional Development on Public School Teachers’ Understanding of Religious Diversity,” examined the experienced of 145 educators in professional development courses on religious literacy. This mixed-methods study found that educators working at all grade levels and in all subject areas benefited from learning about religious diversity and constitutional guidelines regarding religion in public schools.
In particular, classroom and experiential learning activities increased educators’ confidence and comfort with religion in a wide-range of school contexts, including students’ religious identities, the curriculum, and school policies. This research has also informed Dr. Soules’s framework of Pedagogical Content Knowledge about Religion.
Dr. Soules became interested in education about religion as a middle school teacher in Dorchester, MA. Teaching eighth grade World Religions, as well as Social Studies and Latin, she observed how eager students were to learn about religions and to engage with complex questions. The limited availability of constitutionally sound and age-appropriate curriculum resources and lack of support for teacher education led her to pursue graduate studies and her current work in this field. Today, she seeks to promote teacher education about religion and the creation of high quality curricula so that all students have opportunities to learn about religion as engaged and informed citizens in a religiously diverse, democratic society.
Dr. Soules is the co-founder and director of the Religion and Education Collaborative (REC), an interdisciplinary network of scholars and practitioners interested in questions related to religion and schooling. For the past three years, the REC has convened regular meetings for members to share works in progress, network, and report on research findings and outcomes of professional development programs.
As a faculty member and curriculum specialist with the Religious Freedom Center (RFC) of the Freedom Forum Institute, Dr. Soules developed and piloted graduate-level blended learning courses on religious liberty and religious literacy. She also designed and implemented an online professional learning platform, Constitution to Classroom, to provide training and resources on religious liberty and religious literacy for educators. She is currently working on an evaluation of the RFC’s Georgia 3Rs Project, an ongoing initiative to provide high-quality and unique professional development about religion and public schools for educators and administrators in several public school districts in Georgia.
Dr. Soules also works with the Kaur Foundation to create middle and high school curriculum materials about Sikhism as well as professional development workshops for educators and administrators. She has given presentations about religious literacy and religious liberty for educators for multiple organizations.
Currently, Dr. Soules is working on advancing her framework of Pedagogical Content Knowledge about Religion, additional research on the experiences and outcomes of professional development about religion, and research on the outcomes for high school students in religious studies courses. Her research interests also include the representation of religious diversity in multicultural education, educators’ conceptualization of religion, the impacts and possibilities of experiential learning in professional development about religion, and relationship between religious literacy and civic education.
Dr. Soules holds a Masters of Theological Study from the Boston University School of Theology and a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Wellesley College.