Classroom Experience

What is graduate theological education like?

Not all theology programs are the same. Some schools focus on traditional teaching methods--the three-hour lecture. Some schools place greater focus on writing and research, with little focus on pedagogy.

At the ACU Graduate School of Theology (GST), every professor takes his or her pedagogy very seriously. The GST focuses on hiring teachers who possess a passion for research combined with a passion for teaching students in ways that are interesting, helpful, and demanding. The result is a classroom experience that is very engaging and academically rigorous, led by professors who are simultaneously top researchers in their field and highly invested in teaching and developing relationships with their students.

Here is a glimpse into some of the unique learning methods you will encounter at the GST:

Learning Communities
Many classes exhibit an emphasis on collaborative, community-level work, wherein students develop the ability to work creatively with one another. For example, in Church History I, after the professor leads a class discussion about an assigned reading concerning the neglected communities in the early history of the church, students will break into small learning communities to allow critical conversation and internalization of the material. The end-result is that students learn the importance of listening to others and developing interpersonal collaboration in both scholarship and ministry.

Pathways Projects
Students studying for full-time ministry occasionally wonder how classes like Systematic Theology, Philosophy of Religion, or History of Christianity are relevant to their ministry context. GST faculty are convinced that these more theoretical or historical classes are extremely relevant for learning to think through contemporary church tasks, problems, or issues theologically. Part of teaching students how to think theologically are assignments called Pathways Projects. All our Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, and Master of Arts in Global Service students participate in Pathways Projects. In a Pathways Project, students incorporate the material learned in a class like History of Christianity in a way that is applicable to their ministry context. For example, a student currently in or preparing for a senior ministry position could develop a project in which he or she studies Augustine's hermeneutic in de Doctrina in order to develop a six-part sermon series based on Augustin's interpretive methods. The potential connections are completely up to the creativity of each student and the uniqueness of their ministry context!

Technology
ACU's mobile-learning initiative endeavors to imagine a world where information is accessible in new contexts and situations, and where learning becomes truly mobile. ACU was the first University to participate in Apple's Mobile Learning Initiative and, as such, has become leaders in the field providing research and expertise around the use of mobile technology in the classroom.  GST professors engage regularly in training provided by the University, allowing them to access the latest educational technology and pedagogical methods.  Recently, the GST secured a grant to study the use of iPads for M.Div. students to do contextual ministry research.  Future contextual ministry students will continue to participate in this program. The GST is committed to integrating cutting-edge technology with a passion for teaching, providing our students with innovative tools for the practice of ministry.

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