Richard B. Steele, PhD
Professor of Moral and Historical Theology
Associate Dean of Graduate Theological Studies
School of Theology, Seattle Pacific University

October 10, 2016

The students of Seattle Pacific Seminary have now been organized into five “learning communities” (“LC”). This action is in response to the ATS Educational Standard, Section ES 1.1.2, which reads: “The number of students enrolled in any degree program, along with those who have shared investment in the educational goals of that degree program (i.e., those with regular and substantive interaction with the learnings) shall be sufficient to ensure a viable community of learning” (p. 2 of 18). This reorganization of the student body does not entail any changes either to the SPS curriculum as a whole or to the requirements of any of our degree programs. Rather, it creates co-curricular opportunities for students with common educational interests and vocational objectives to socialize and encourage one another, and should thereby improve their overall grad school experience and facilitate the completion of their degrees. And there will be considerable “interpenetration” of the learning communities. Some students will belong to two LCs at once, as shown in the graphic below, and many of the new co-curricular activities we will be offering in coming years will be for the members of two or more LCs, or indeed, for all SPS students.

Here’s how it will work: Every incoming student will begin in Learning Community 1, and will remain there during “Phase 1” of all SPS degree programs, that is, while s/he is still taking core curriculum course. After completing the core sequence, the student moves on into “Phase 2” of his/her degree program, namely, the period of time in which s/he is taking degree-specific courses. (For details, see the tracking sheets on the Seminary Programs pages of the SPS website.) At that point the student is assigned to one or more of the other four learning communities. LC-2 will be for MDiv students, LC-3 for students pursuing one of our “professionally oriented” MA degrees, LC-4 for students pursuing one of our “academically oriented MA degrees or the research-focused MDiv, and LC-5 for dual-degree and joint-degree students. The scheme is shown in the graphic below, and a tentative list of LC-specific activities are shown thereafter.

Students will be receiving their learning community assignments by email in coming days.

PDF Version: learning-communities

Learning Community 1: All first-year students, and all part-time students (regardless of their degree path) who are still taking core classes
1. 39 credits of core classes
2. Study Skills Workshop (with ADGS and Graduate Assistant for tutoring)
3. Introduction to Theological Research Workshop (with Theological Librarian)
4. Financial Literacy Workshop (with Seminary Director and Assistant Director of Student Loans
5. Tutoring services with GA
6. Wesleyan Class Meetings

Learning Community 2: MDiv students
1. 51 credits of “basic” courses
2. 12 credits of contextual education
3. Professionally-oriented Burning Issues courses
4. Meetings with denominational representatives and faculty liaisons

Learning Community 3: Professionally oriented MA students, i.e., those in the Asian-American Ministry, Business and Applied Theology, Christian Leadership, and Reconciliation & Intercultural Studies:
1. Many of the same “basic” courses
2. 6 credits of contextual education
3. Professionally-oriented Burning Issues courses
4. Autumn research methods workshop
5. Winter work-in-progress luncheon
6. Spring master’s project colloquium

Learning Community 4: Academically oriented MA students, i.e., those in the Christian Scripture and Christian Studies degree programs, and research-oriented MDiv students:
1. Autumn research methods workshop
2. Professionally-oriented Burning Issues courses
3. Winter work-in-progress luncheon
4. Spring master’s thesis colloquium
5. Preparing-for-graduate-school Q&A forum with SPS faculty

Learning Community 5: Students enrolled in dual-degree or joint-degree programs, i.e., simultane-ously pursuing graduate degrees in SPS plus one of the other SPU graduate programs (Business Administration, Creative Writing, Education, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy, etc.).
1. A “dedicated” Facebook page
2. Professionally-oriented Burning Issues courses
3. Two annual social events sponsored by SPS with representative faculty and staff from the other graduate programs. Discussion topics: the emotional, intellectual and social challenges of dual-degree/joint-degree experience, vocational options for d-d/j-d graduates, etc.
4. Students would also be in LC 3 or LC 4, depending on their MA degree path.

Co-Curricular Activities for All SPS Students: weekly chapel services, prayer services in Alexander Chapel, worship, monthly Kingswood dinners, annual SOT/TSU/SPS picnic/softball game, peer tu-toring, annual public lectures (Walls, Palmer, etc.), annual Day of Common Learning activities, an-nual high ceremonies (Ivy Cutting Ceremony, Commissioning Service, Graduate Hooding Ceremo-ny, Graduate Commencement) are available to all SPS students throughout their seminary career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *