Department of Historical Studies
University of Toronto Mississauga
Professor Derry is Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, at the Department of Historical Studies and the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy. The winner of the 2013 UTM Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, he is an outstanding teacher and scholar with an international reputation as a leader in education related to the study of religion.
Professor Derry is the grandson of working-class immigrants and the first person in his family to attend university. He has worked at a day camp for hearing impaired children, a summer camp for homeless men, and an alternative elementary school. This background helped shape his interest in making sure all students are welcomed and supported, particularly those in marginalized groups or challenging life situations.
As an active participant in UTM’s lively teaching community, Professor Derry helped bring Exam Jam to the campus; pioneer problem-based learning in the humanities and social sciences; and obtain support for the first Indigenous faculty positions at UTM. His approach emphasizes the importance of student experience, creativity, and critical engagement. Since 2000 he has been involved in administering, developing, and promoting study abroad opportunities at U of T.
Professor Derry’s academic focus is on the ways in which modern cultural products relate to more traditional religious beliefs and practices. He is a groundbreaking researcher who co-edited The Myth Awakens, the first book on Star Wars by scholars of religion. He has also had a global impact on pedagogy in his field. In addition to his many essays on education and the study of religion, he is the co-editor of a special double issue of Religious Studies and Theology focused on teaching and is the inaugural pedagogy editor for Religious Studies Review.
In all his work, Professor Derry supports and is supported by staff, students, faculty, family, and friends. He believes that teaching and scholarship are in every meaningful way about community and relationship, agreeing with Métis scholar Zoe Todd that whatever we accomplish is “the product of the blood, sweat, and labour of myriad co-convenors, co-thinkers, collaborators, and co-dreamers who lift each other up.”