The Association of Theological Schools, has awarded the Institute of Pastoral Studies and Dr. Dan Rhodes with an innovative projects grant to aid in a new approach to Contextual Education. This project will form equipped leaders to serve the church and society in the twenty-first century and will pioneer a model of theological education based on the process of action research teams.
The long-term goal is to implement a thoroughly reimagined approach to CE based on a model of Theological Action Research Teams (TART). This expanded and more thoroughly integrated approach to CE engages students from their first semester forward. It shifts to a 30-week placement accompanied by coaching, learning communities, skill-focused workshops, and practical instruction. Working with community partners, students will engage in discerning community-identified issues and, subsequently, organize community-based, co-creative, and theologically informed initiatives for addressing these issues. Additionally, this approach aims to develop a program of theological education that attracts and retains underserved and underrepresented students as well as engendering new faculty scholarship across theological/ministerial specialties rooted in community collaboration.
This year, the CE program will begin research and preliminary steps toward instituting the TART model, building infrastructure, strengthening community partnerships, and developing programmatic components aiming to launch the first IPS student cohort to engage the TART/CE model in Fall 2018.