The challenges facing today’s theological institutions are many and varied. While some arise from the school’s specific context, there is one formidable challenge shared by all: How to think strategically and imaginatively about the future of theological education.
President David M. Mellott and Dr. Deb Mullen, Leadership Education Consultant and Professor Emerita at Columbia Theological Seminary, unpacked this dynamic when they hosted a series of consultations throughout the United States, funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, on the current and future directions of theological education. The richness of those discussions combined with the potential helpfulness of insights from those charged with thinking about theological education inspired Mellott and Mullen to do more.
Since additional in-person conversations were not possible in these pandemic days, Mellott and Mullen turned online. Over the last few months, the duo engaged leading and diverse thinkers about topics important to theological educators, those pursuing theological education, and those who benefit from their education. Those conversations along with helpful commentary will be available for public consumption in January 2021 as the first-ever podcast series produced by Christian Theological Seminary, “Imagining the Future of Theological Education.”
Here is a glimpse of the guests and topics featured in the podcast’s six episodes:
- Rev. Dr. Fernando Cascante of The Association for Hispanic Theological Education and Rev. Dr. Sarah Drummond of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School examined the unique contributions of Bible Institutes and other community-based models of theological education that are more equitable, inclusive, and hospitable to persons of color.
- Dr. Michael Gilligan, President Emeritus of the Henry Luce Foundation, and Iliff School of Theology’s Rev. Dr. Boyung Lee analyzed threats and opportunities to international theological education and to students who identify as LGBTQIA+.
- Rabbi Dr. Rachel Mikva of Chicago Theological Seminary was joined by Rev. Dr. Frank Yamada from the Association of Theological Schools. In addition to reviewing the newly approved ATS standards impacting the future of theological education, the two stressed the importance of theological institutions to form faculties and students to live and lead in an interreligious and intersectional world.
- Pew’s Dr. Gregory Smith and Rev. Dr. Christian Scharen of The Center for the Study of Theological Education explored the changing dynamics of religious life outside of academic and ecclesial institutions, and their impact on theological education.
- Dr. Theresa Delgado from Iona College and Rev. Matthew Wesley Williams of the Interdenominational Theological Center addressed the challenges of African American and Hispanic students in traditionally white schools as well as how pedagogy forms and is formed by students’ lived experiences.
- Rev. Joanne Rodriguez of the Hispanic Theological Initiative and Rev. Stephen Lewis of the Forum for Theological Exploration highlighted the role mentoring plays in faculty development and formation and how predominantly white theological institutions can ensure their campuses are more equitable, inclusive, and hospitable to persons of color.
That extensive list is only a sampling. At times inspiring and at times disconcerting, anyone concerned about the future of theological education or the future of the church will find material for thought in these six conversations.
“Imagining the Future of Theological Education” podcast series will go live mid-January. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter email list here to receive more info about the podcast and its release.
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