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NOTABLE MULTIFAITH PROGRAMS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM IN AMERICAN SEMINARIES, 2009
High-impact multifaith education includes both classroom-based learning and experiential learning outside the classroom. Because the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Seminary is a strong advocate for multifaith educational experiences outside the classroom environment, the study’s authors have highlighted a number of initiatives that came to light as part of this study (and are eager to hear about other such programs).
Travel Study Programs
Of the 1,210 Academic Courses found in this study, 56 of them (5%) included an aspect of travel study. By far, the most common travel study offering focused on exploring the Jewish roots of Christianity through travel and study in the Middle East. However, many other travel study experiences were offered, including:
Many theological schools offer, or require, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). CPE training often features a significant dimension of multifaith education, since the cohort group may include students of diverse faith backgrounds, and/or the patients that the students visit may come from various faith backgrounds. The impact of CPE should in no way be overlooked as a critical component of multifaith education in American theological schools.
In addition, a handful of institutions are offering additional unique field education offerings:
Cross-Seminary Gatherings of Seminarians
A handful of non-classroom, cross-seminary interfaith programs exist for seminary students:
In addition, cross-registration opportunities between schools and institutional partnerships also bring together seminarians from different faith traditions.
This study found few student-driven programs in multifaith education, either because such initiatives are rare or because the methodology used did not bring them to light. One such program is an ongoing inter-seminary dialogue in New York City, organized and led by volunteer seminary students. Participants from General Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College-JIR (NY), and Jewish Theological Seminary meet throughout the year to dialogue. Student-driven dialogues have also been launched by students at Fuller Seminary.
Experiential learning is a pedagogical method or tool used in some classrooms, rather than a program itself. However, in this section of the report that features learning programs outside of a classroom, it is worth noting that 110 (9%) of the courses investigated - not including travel study courses - involved an aspect of experiential learning, such as visits to religious or community sites or frequent use of guest speakers. One-third (32%) of schools used this approach in one or more courses.