John H. Westerhoff III: A humanistic and historical analysis of his impact on religious education

Michael S Bickford, Fordham University


This dissertation examines the career and work of John H. Westerhoff as both a religious educator and a practical theologian. It identifies the influences on his theoretical framework, examines his Community of Faith Enculturation Paradigm for education in detail, places his work in practical theology in context, and illustrates his continued influence on the field of religious education. This dissertation argues that Westerhoff's enculturation model of religious education is his most enduring legacy to the field and shows how it both works to preserve the values and ideals of the faith community as well as offer a critique and call for reform of the values and behaviors of that community when necessary. This dissertation also examines Westerhoff's work in the field of practical theology. It argues he utilized the constructs of a classical understanding of practical theology to advocate its reestablishment as an academic discipline in order to assist seminaries in better preparing clergy to deal holistically with the many non-classroom based educational opportunities that arise in the life of a parish. This dissertation places Westerhoff on the mainstream of late twentieth century theological and social liberalism, it shows his propensity as a dialectical thinker, and shows the continuing influence he has on the field of religious education.

Subject Area

Biographies|Education history|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Bickford, Michael S, "John H. Westerhoff III: A humanistic and historical analysis of his impact on religious education" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3455300.