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United’s Unique Learning Environment and Curriculum

When United Theological Seminary opened its doors in 1962, its intent was “to find a new way to educate persons for ministry in a changing world.” That spirit of openness to improvement continues to shape theological education at United, and the seminary is constantly improving its environment and curriculum to order to prepare students for creative, compassionate, and competent ministry in our changing world. The distinctive features of our programs, listed below, combine to offer students a rich environment for learning and growth.


Contextual Studies
Scheduling
Globalization
Consortium of Theological Schools
A Spiritual Chronicle    


LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

Learning as a Communal Activity
Education at United is experienced through conversation with the texts of faith communities of the Christian heritage and contemporary theological communities, including student-faculty interaction, collegial peer learning, supervised leadership experience in the ministries of local communities and cross-cultural learning experiences.

Nurturing an Inclusive Community
United is open and affirming of persons from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, diverse ages, physical abilities, sexual orientations and denominational and religious backgrounds. United seeks to foster an environment of respectful dialogue among different points of view and life experiences.

Global Awareness
United is strongly committed to the development of greater global awareness among its students and faculty. This concern is integrated within the curriculum so that it informs the academic program as a whole.

SCHEDULE OF COURSES

Block Scheduling
Classes are scheduled in three-hour blocks of time that meet in the morning, afternoon or evening, once each week. This block scheduling enables commuters and part-time students to work toward degrees.

4-1-4-1 Academic Calendar
The academic calendar is structured to include a long term, from September to December, in the fall(4); a short winter term in January(1); a long spring term from February to May(4); and a short term in June(1). M.Div. students carrying a full load take four courses in the fall and spring and one each in June and January. The short, or “J,” term classes meet in three-hour blocks, four days a week, for three weeks.

INTEGRATIVE NOTEBOOK

All students in the M.Div., M.A.R.L. and M.A. programs are required to maintain an Integrative Notebook and meet with their academic advisor to review the materials collected in the notebook. The Masters Student Handbook outlines the review intervals and the required contents for each degree program.

The Integrative Notebook requirement is intended to provide United’s M.A. students an ongoing context for reflection and evaluation on how the different subjects they study come together into an integrated whole. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on their emerging formation as religious leaders or religious persons as they appropriate what they learn in ways that make sense, in light of their individual experience and contexts. The contents of the Integrative Notebook and the content of the student-advisor dialogue around the Integrative Notebook should also provide students in ordination processes a rich resource for documenting their readiness for ministry.

Certain documents are required components of the Integrative Notebook and other documents are optional components. The required and optional documents vary by degree program. The frame of reference for evaluating a student’s progress and development as reflected in the Integrative Notebook are a set of “Indicators of Integration.” These too vary by degree program.

A SPIRITUAL CHRONICLE

A Spiritual Chronicle, created by Martha Postlethwaite, chaplain and professor of spiritual formation, is a reflective tool created to help students integrate spiritual, academic and vocational dimensions of their seminary journey. Requirements include an ongoing spiritual autobiography, course reflections, spiritual practices and meetings with the chaplain and spiritual directors.

Some portions of the chronicle will be introduced in courses, although the material shared in the chronicle is confidential and will not be graded or evaluated. The advisor will inquire about timely progress in the chronicle at the yearly review. Three spiritual direction sessions will be made available for students to talk about the content and experience of creating the chronicle.

The chronicle is required of all M.Div. and M.A.R.L. students and is available to anyone in a degree program. Non-degree students may use it as a self-guided tool.

CONTEXTUAL STUDIES

Ministry internships for students are associated with courses in contextual studies and one of the interdisciplinary seminars. All M.Div. and M.A.R.L. students serve quarter-time internships in worshiping congregations during the same year that they are enrolled in CS251-252 Religious Leadership, Organization, Administration, and Finance in Context.

One of the prerequisites for this course is IS152 Integration of Ministry and Local Theologies, which includes a mini-internship in urban ministry. Additionally, M.Div. students will take either CS253 Ministry Practicum or CS254 CPE Ministry Practicum.

See the course descriptions for further information about these courses in general.

GLOBALIZATION

Every student in a master’s degree program at United is required to complete a global justice study experience. Several immersion opportunities--in such places as Minnesota, Mexico, Guatemala and the Philippines--are offered to meet this requirement.

CONSORTIUM OF THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS

The Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools is a strong, public sign of ecumenical cooperation in the state of Minnesota. The schools represented by the Consortium are:

  • Bethel Theological Seminary (Baptist General Conference)
  • Luther Seminary (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
  • The School of Theology at St. John’s University (Roman Catholic)
  • The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas (Roman Catholic)
  • United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (United Church of Christ)

Individually, the schools offer the Master of Divinity degree, the Master of Theology degree, and a number of academic and professional master’s degrees. As a Consortium, the schools cooperate in a variety of areas, including rural ministry, urban ministry and science and theology. Strong cooperative programming among the libraries of the Consortium and opportunities for cross-registration among the campuses increase opportunities for students and advance ecumenical understanding.

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