Women's Multifaith EducationDoctor of Ministry in a Multifaith ContextFace to Face | Faith to FaithCase for Multifaith EducationResearch: Multifaith Education in SeminariesDefinitionsTop 20 SeminariesNotable CoursesNotable ProgramsBackground and Purpose150 Seminaries in the StudyStudy AuthorsMy Faith / Your Faith
Home | Religion in a Multifaith World | Research: Multifaith Education in Seminaries | Background and Purpose
Background and Purpose
In 2007, the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Seminary asked graduates of seminaries from 1995 and 2000 the following question: how important are the following areas of study to your professional life and work? Respondents were given a list of 14 areas of study. Seminary graduates of all types (Mainline Protestant, Evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish) rated “World Religions” courses 13th among the 14 study areas. Only congregational administration was ranked lower. (For details, see the Auburn Studies report How Are We Doing?)
Yet, more than ever, multifaith education is becoming a critical aspect of a responsible theological education. Religious leaders are increasingly unable to be fully successful in their roles without the ability to reach across lines of faith for certain aspects of their ministry. News headlines serve as a primary source of information about other faith traditions, instead of careful study and relationship building with adherents. Clergy discover people of all faiths in the pews, and meet diverse family members in hospital rooms and funerals, with little understanding of how to minister to them effectively. Further, historical developments of religious traditions are sufficiently intertwined that even to understand one’s own tradition requires knowledge of other faiths. To address this great need, a handful of seminaries have taken the lead by launching creative and serious multifaith education programs, moving far beyond offering world religions courses. Yet the state of multifaith education at seminaries, in broad terms, remains largely unknown.
Since 2004, the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary has held an annual faculty development seminar to bring together seminary faculty involved in multifaith education. Participating faculty consistently valued the collegial exchange of method and ideas that these seminars offered.
More recently, it became clear that broader knowledge about the state of multifaith education in seminaries across the U.S. would be valuable to seminaries and their faculty. In January 2009, Auburn’s Center for Multifaith Education launched the present study of the state of multifaith education in U.S. institutions which prepare religious leaders. The purpose of the project was twofold:
1. to learn more about the degree to which multifaith education occurs in U.S. institutions which train religious leaders, and the forms it takes; and
2. to identify and promote best practices in multifaith education for religious leaders.
If you have suggestions for making these resources more useful or more widely available, please contact Rabbi Justus Baird, Director of the Center for Multifaith Education.
For full background on the study, including sample methods, diversity reports on the seminaries in the sample, etc., see the PDF version of the study.