June 2019 – Drew Theological School has a new transformational curriculum that’s responsive to the next generation of faith leaders.
“The curriculum offers foundational theological and spiritual formation, innovative experiential learning and distinct vocational pathways that focus on integrating a life of faith and ministry,” said Dean Javier Viera, who called for its transformation at his installation. “This has been a multi-year process to realign our educational mission with the expressed needs of the church and its leaders.”
In addition, the school’s programs are flexible to meet the needs of students and incorporate a broader range of theological traditions and perspectives, reflecting the diverse, ecumenical and open community on campus. Students are also closely supported by mentors, be they professors, community leaders, alumni or members of the broader Drew community.
“We believe the new curriculum reflects best practices emerging in higher education and in the changing landscape of the Church’s ministries,” said Associate Dean Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, who worked closely with faculty to develop new courses. “Drew has always been a leader in theological education and this new curriculum reflects our intention to remain so.”
Here’s a look at three new problem-based courses from the perspective of current Master of Divinity students. These classes develop leadership capacity and the skills needed to respond to pressing questions of ministry in the church and in the world.
Address urgent community challenges, such as food waste and insecurity, housing affordability and second language literacy for Spanish speakers, with theologically rigorous, independent and imaginative thought
“The class allowed us to research an urgent challenge and partner with community agencies to make a positive impact. This was an amazing opportunity because my vocational pathway is ministerial leadership. I loved how the class brought a mix of traditional lessons combined with hands-on data collection and experience.”
“Strategizing to devise a plan on food insecurity, utilizing multiple evaluation foci while engaging the skillsets of all involved and then interpreting the plan for the pursuit of social justice helped us build a toolkit for advocacy and activism. Everyday Ethics is a great collaboration of education at work.”
Examine the faith development, Christian identity and religious inclinations of youth and young adults through projects that incorporate research and real-world experiences and foster the development of effective theological, ethical and artistic models for the ministry of these groups
“Having the opportunity to create artistic pieces, discussion guides, curricula, asset-based community development plans and collaborative community action events has been inexplicably mind-opening. These in-class pieces were excellently paired with my internship working with youth at Judson Memorial Church in New York City, participating in the Justice Ministry Education program and serving the community as the Theological Student Association president. I take my call to social action as a divine calling on my life as I continually work toward being an ethical mentor for youth who provides support, opportunity and community.”
Research the history of race and privilege at Drew to understand the importance of knowing history in the work of racial reconciliation in a community and to practice how to frame a shared history project in the church communities that you will lead
“We explored the difficult topic of race relations in the United States—historically, currently and locally—while learning real-world skills for church work, like working collaboratively, running meetings, doing primary-source research and presenting results. Thanks to the friendships I made in class, the frank discussions and the research, I took away a better understanding of the experience of people of color and of the inherent privilege that comes from being white, with a commitment to correcting the imbalance. This experience is directly applicable to my future work as a chaplain.”