EDUCATION & Are today’s seminarians tomorrow’s corporate leaders?

by Kathryn Post, Religion News Service, 2/14/21.

… Executives are looking for help in deciding what matters, to their companies, to their staffers and to them.

Several American seminaries, long training grounds for aspiring pastors and rabbis, have begun to answer the need.

… As much as seminaries are responding to a need in corporate America, they are also adapting to what the decline in institutional religion has visited on them. In today’s more spiritually diverse religious landscape, there is less interest in traditional church ministry.

Over the last six years, 43%-45% of Yale Divinity School’s student body has been enrolled in that school’s two-year Master of Arts in Religion program, a customizable degree for students pursuing academia or a role that doesn’t require ordination. More than half (56%) of this year’s incoming class is in an MAR program.

At Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, “roughly half of Fuller graduates are utilizing their Fuller education in contexts that extend beyond classic church and congregational settings,” Marcus Sun, Fuller’s vice president of global recruitment, admissions, marketing and retention, told Religion News Service in an email.

… “The skills that ministers bring to their work are the skills that business schools desire to give to their students, and that CEOs want. They want empathy, connectivity with others, active listening,” said Karim Hutson, who founded a real estate development company called Genesis after graduating from Harvard Business School in 2003 and from Harvard Divinity School five years later.

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SEMINARY & What are America’s Largest Seminaries?

by Chelsen Vicari, The Institute on Religion and Democracy 8/1/16.

Thanks to figures collected by the Association of Theological Schools(ATS), it’s possible to compile full-time student enrollment among accredited schools to get a better picture of the largest seminaries in the United States.

Latest reports from the 2015-16 academic year reveal an interesting picture: students seeking training for church ministry in the United States are largely attracted to evangelical Protestant seminaries, a trend that hasn’t changed much over the past twenty years.

A note regarding data collection: this compiled list is only a comparison of full-time students enrolled in seminaries accredited with the ATS. The ATS does provide a head count enrollment total which includes part-time students. But since full-time enrollment is the most stable measure of seminary size, this still accurately represents institutional attainment.

The evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary ranks largest with 1,542 full-time enrolled students during the 2015-16 academic year. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary follow closely behind with 1,438 and 1,356 full-time enrolled students, respectively.

Seminaries Table 1

While all of the ten largest seminaries in the country are evangelical Protestant, it’s interesting that half of those schools are Southern Baptist-affiliated. Five of the six theological seminaries associated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) are among the top ten largest in the country. Meanwhile, the SBC-affiliated Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary barely missed the list with 705 full-time students enrolled.

Fluctuations between America’s top ten largest seminaries during the 2015-16 and 1995-96 academic school years are surprisingly narrow. Only Reformed Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church USA-affiliated Princeton Theological Seminary, and United Methodist Church-affiliated Candler School of Theology fell out of the top ten.

Seminaries Table 2

Since the 1995-96 academic school year, Princeton Theological Seminary has seen 30 percent fewer full-time enrolled students. Reformed Theological Seminary saw a 33 percent decrease to 547 full-time students while Candler School of Theology experienced a 39 percent drop to 414 full-time students.

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WESLEY SEMINARY & Why it models the future of theological schools #WesleySem

An interview with Daniel O. Aleshire by Faith and Leadership Magazine, Assoc. of Theological Schools, 5/5/15.

“The professional master’s degree has been growing — a trend that’s likely to continue, says the executive director of The Association of Theological Schools in an interview reflecting on a new report on theological education.”

When The Association of Theological Schools released a report on enrollment trends over the last five years, the headline was a bit surprising. “Seminaries set six enrollment records(link is external)” was the title of the report, which went on to describe the growth trends, including a record number of professional master’s degree students. Another recent report identified 100 seminaries that have grown over the past five years(link is external) and examined the reasons why. “The trends described here suggest a brighter future for graduate theological education — six years out from the recession — than is often reported,” the enrollment report said. As executive director of ATS(link is external), Daniel O. Aleshire is in a unique position to observe and reflect on the fast-changing landscape of theological education. He spoke to Faith & Leadership about educational trends and what they mean for mainline institutions. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: What do you see as the most significant bright spots? Forty percent of ATS schools have had increasing enrollment. But the primary learning is that there’s no one set of characteristics that is applicable across these growing schools. They’re growing for different reasons, so there’s not the opportunity to mimic a particular institutional behavior and expect the same institutional result by other schools. Some of the schools that were growing, for example, were candidates for accreditation. They experienced a jump in enrollment once they attained accredited status. Other schools have developed new educational programs, and it appears that increases in enrollment are directly related to either new degree programs or new patterns of educational delivery. Some schools have revamped their admissions process — the way they are posturing the school, describing its mission, focusing in on a particular constituency — and for some schools, that appears to be what contributed to their growth.

Q: Degree-seeking students have declined by 3 percent since 2009, but some numbers are rising. Talk a little bit about that. The master of divinity degree continues to be the program with the most students enrolled, but the enrollment in the M.Div. has been declining, while the enrollment in the professional master’s degrees has been increasing — in fact, increasing pretty significantly over the last several years. The professional master’s degrees in the olden days of theological education used to be a degree in religious education or a degree in church music. We now have professional master’s degrees offered in almost 250 different degree titles… There is no one of those programs that’s running away. We don’t have the numbers of enrollment by specific title, but my perception is that the primary growth has come in areas of leadership and areas of counseling, and some in areas of intercultural ministry. I think that another possible reason for this growth in professional master’s degree program enrollment has been the growth over the last 30 years of evangelical Protestant schools. Many of these schools are related to church bodies that have a more free-church pattern of polity that means there’s not an entity requiring the M.Div. ordination…

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EDUCATION & Is going to college worth it? #PewResearch says Yes!

by ANDREA CAUMONT, Pew Research, 5/19/15.

A new Pew Research Center report on higher education contains a number of findings about the rising value of a college degree (as well as the rising cost of not going to college). College-educated millennials are outperforming their less-educated peers on virtually every economic measure, and the gap between the two groups has only grown over time. Here are six key findings that provide a compelling answer to the question: Is going to college worth it?

1A college education is worth more today. There’s a wider earnings gap between college-educated and less-educated Millennials compared with previous generations.


2College benefits go beyond earnings: In addition to earning more, college-educated Millennials also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. They’re also more likely to be married and less likely to be living in their parent’s home.


3College grads are more satisfied with their jobs: College-educated Millennials are more likely to see themselves on a career path, rather than just working at a job to get them by.


4The cost of not going to college has risen. Millennials with just a high school diploma are faring worse today than their counterparts in earlier generations by almost every economic measure examined.


5College grads say college is worth it: About nine-in-ten college grads in every generation say college has been, or will be, worth the investment. Despite a steep rise in college tuitions, Millennials agree.


6College majors matter. Among all grads, science or engineering majors are the most likely to say their current job is very closely related to their field of study and the least likely to say that a different major would have better prepared them for the job they really wanted.

ST_14.02.11_236_HigherEd_Majors-MatterRead more at …

MANAGEMENT & For Catholic seminarians, some Wawa-inspired management training #PhiladelphiaInquirer

By Harold Brubaker, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, Monday, April 27, 2015, 9:01 PM


Running a Wawa store and managing a Roman Catholic parish might not seem to have much in common.

But last week, a group of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary students, a year from being ordained as priests, had the last of five management-training sessions inspired by a program that St. Joseph’s University professors developed for the convenience-store chain.

For the seminarians, the Thursday management classes at St. Joseph’s Haub School of Business were in sharp contrast to the philosophy and theology classes that are central to their formation as priests.

“None of us entered the seminary to be administrators,” said Stephan Isaac, one of the 11 attending the session last week.

But Isaac, who is from the Diocese of Allentown, added that he knew having the skills needed to run a parish smoothly – especially in dealings with the committees of parishioners who help guide it – was not a luxury for a pastor: “It’s a necessity.”


LEARNING & The Ultimate #InfoGraphic Guide To Note-Taking

by YONG KANG CHAN, 4/24/15.

According to the infographic produced by Westminster Bridge Student Accommodation (WBSA), if you don’t organize and review your notes within the first 9 hours, 60% of what you have learned will be forgotten. Writing down and reviewing your notes is important because you may not have any ideas how to apply what you have learned at the point when you receive the information. Reflecting on them later may be more effective…
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SEMINARY & Seminaries Set 6 Enrollment Records

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “I wonder how much Wesley Seminary at IWU helped fuel this … at least we contributed! Good job everyone.” 🙂

Seminaries set six enrollment records

by Tom Tanner, The Colloquy Online, 2/15.

In the midst of unprecedented enrollment declines in higher education and a gradual decline in theological school enrollments that began in 2007, the latest figures from The Association of Theological Schools reveal six positive trends. Read more.

RESEARCH & Crafting Research in the Service of Theological Education #WesleySem

by Joel B. Green, Theological Education Volume 46 Number 1 (2010), p. 10

What is scholarship? Three or four years ago, I was involved in putting together a definition, and this is the language we drafted:

Scholarship means engaging in original research as well as stepping back from one’s investigation in order to look for connections, build bridges, and communicate one’s work effectively.

Accordingly, the term scholarship recognizes discovery, integration, application, and teaching as separate but overlapping dimensions. You may recognize that, with this definition, we were borrowing from Ernest L. Boyer’s book, Scholarship Reconsidered, and especially from the conversation about assessing faculty scholarship that Boyer’s work stimulated.8 We defined an activity as scholarly if it met certain criteria:

• if it requires disciplinary expertise;

• if it is performed in a manner characterized by clear goals, adequate prep- aration, and appropriate methodology;

• if its results are appropriately documented and disseminated; and

• if its significance extends beyond the context of the individual but some- how contributes to the field of inquiry and is subjected to peer evaluation.

This includes books, but not only books. In fact, all kinds of cultural products can arise out of that way of thinking about scholarship.

Download the entire article here: Green on Seminary Research Agendas.pdf

SEMINARIES & Their Future: My Interview w/ #OutreachMagazine #Forecast

Rphoto 5ecently I was asked by a writer for Outreach Magazine to talk about the future of seminary education.  Since, I’ve written on this since the 1990s, I’m often asked my thoughts.  Here are my (unedited) replies about what I think the future seminary will look like:

Outreach Magazine:  What shifts or trends are you seeing in culture, in the Church, or in your students that challenge you to change the seminary experience for today’s students?

Whitesel:  Christian leaders today want accessibility, practicality and economy. That is why we designed our seminary from the ground up. We are like a church plant, we started with a clean slate. And that is why we’ve been able to be so innovative. All of our courses our team taught by a theologian and an application (praxis) professor. That is probably why we’ve grown in a little over four years to over 400 students.

Outreach Magazine:  How are seminaries meeting the needs and challenges of emerging leadership?

Whitesel: Many seminaries are experimenting with online education. But often there’s a great deal of pushback from the professors and even the administration. Seminaries have not historically been organizations that embrace innovation.

However our seminary, because it is a new and growing young seminary, has established innovation as one of our founding principles. And, we are part of Indiana Wesleyan University with over 10,000 students that has utilized online education for over 15 years. So we have an experienced with online education that most seminaries just don’t have. That’s allowed us to led the innovation of tomorrow’s education of seminarians.

Outreach Magazine:  Anything else you could say about this?

Whitesel:  You didn’t ask this, but here is a good question: “what will the seminary of the next 20 years look like?”  I believe it will use virtual reality to bring to life some of the great historical seminary minds, either through holograms or video. You will be able to have George Ladd appear in your class on New Testament theology, and then have Geoffrey Bromley appear in your course on church history. Those were two of the famous professors from Fuller Seminary in the 1970s. And so the seminary professor of tomorrow will be more of a curator. I’ve already begun to do this by curating with almost 500 articles on church leadership and growth, curated for tomorrow seminarians.  So the future the seminary will be much more virtual and relevant with videos of historical and contemporary theologians – but curated for their practical insights by practitioner professors.