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Imagining the Future of Theological Education: Episode 3

Podcast Episode 3


A conversation with Rev. Dr. Frank Yamada, Executive Director of the Association of Theological Schools, located in Pittsburgh, and Rabbi Dr. Rachel Mikva, Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Chair and Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, and Sr. Faculty Fellow of the InterReligious Institute, Chicago Theological Seminary, bringing together diverse perspectives on theological education in America today.

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Read the show notes for Episode 3

A Conversation with Rev. Dr. Frank Yamada and Rabbi Dr. Rachel Mikva

Dr. Frank Yamada, Executive Director of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), and Dr. Rachel Mikva, Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Chair and Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, and Sr. Faculty Fellow of the InterReligious Institute share perspectives on how contextual learning, innovations and interfaith leadership may impact the future of theological education. “There is so much more reason to raise our hands than wring our hands.”

3 questions covered in this episode

  1. How do the newly approved ATS standards impact theological education in terms of racial justice, gender justice and social equity?
  2. What innovations in theological education are likely to arise following the disruptions of COVID-19?
  3. Imagining the future of theological education, what would you like to see?

Episode Summary

The conversation considers how recently approved ATS standards, the global pandemic and a moment ripe for contextualizing interreligious education may influence future innovations in theological education.

Conversational Highlights:

2:30 – How will the newly approved ATS standards impact theological education viewed through the lens of racial justice, gender justice and equity?

  • Standard 1.5 provides a flexible but not lenient requirement for institutions to define, embody and measure diversity.
  • The new standards are flexible and assess what measures equip a student for graduate level theological education.
  • More qualitative aspects support the intersectional and interreligious aspects of contextualized theological education.

13:43 – How important is it for institutions to form faculty and students to live and lead in an interreligious and intersectional world?

  • Contextually appropriate education is essential.
  • Theological institutions must work in common work to engage those who are different to work toward the common good.
  • “Holy envy” threatens the humanist, ecumenical spirit. Today’s moment is ripe for theological institutions to advance the dignity of contextual, multi-religious education. This approach can begin with common conversation that evolves into practice.

25:17 – What will innovation look like in the future – in the new normal?

  • Theological education is at a moment of adaptation and the challenge is to move beyond the initial mechanics and apply digital technologies for relational and transformative purposes.
  • Technology presents an opportunity for educational institutions to engage in more geographically diverse partnerships.

29:41 – Looking to the future, what would you like to see happen in theological education?

  • Religion has always gone through periods of reformation, and we’re in a moment of reformation now as aspects of religious traditions are transformed.
  • The urgency of the moment, technology and a spirit of creativity can help institutions rethink theological education.
  • Contextual education is a thread that must be carried forward and not relegated to an episode in theological education. Embracing education in a contextual manner via community partnerships will help institutions serve their neighbors and the common good.