In June, a team from each of the five schools comes to Northeast Harbor, Maine for a five-day conference focused on the narratives. The teams are composed of the president, the dean, and four members of the faculty. At this summer seminar, participants discuss the five schools’ narratives, meet as teams, worship together, and have time for personal renewal. The seminar itself is constructed intentionally to provide the time and space needed to promote evocative conversation and reflection. School teams are encouraged to be together in ways that are not possible during the regular academic year.
Through the critical discussions of the June Seminar we seek to
- Affirm the teaching ministry of theological educators,
- Identify the diverse ways in which issues of teaching and learning present themselves in institutional contexts,
- Evoke new perspectives on the challenges facing individual schools, and
- Encourage faculty to make conversations about teaching and learning a crucial part of faculty life.
In focusing on the narratives prepared by each school, the June Seminar is an occasion for reflecting on the underlying assumptions and perspectives that illuminate issues in theological teaching and learning. It is a place where colleagues can learn from one another, both in gaining a wider sense of the issues that affect theological teaching and in gaining insight into a particular educational issue or concern that each school faces.
Following the June Seminar, the seminary teams refine the issue in teaching and learning which they have identified in their narratives and now want to address in an educational project over the next two years. A modest grant is awarded each school upon the acceptance of its project proposal. While it is the responsibility of the team to do the initial work, the whole faculty in each institution is expected to be involved in selecting and designing the project itself. After implementing the project over a two-year period, each school is invited to send three representatives to a three-day consultation in Maine to explore the significance of the projects they designed. Finally, each school completes a final report which is posted on our website.
From available studies on teaching, we recognize that the process of transformation involves the creation of a setting that allows for critical reflection and the emergence of principles that may shape educational projects. By implementing the Seminar projects and reflecting on their significance, faculties have often found the motivation to take on additional initiatives for addressing issues in teaching and learning.