Reflect ∙ Collaborate ∙ Integrate – 2018 Graduate School New Curriculum
Associate Professor (Theological Studies)
In this age of rapid change and technological advancement, our world has become increasingly complex and diverse. China Graduate School of Theology (‘CGST’) strongly feels the need to transform our approach to theological education in response to the changing times. We need a new curriculum that better equip the next generation of Kingdom servants who can integrate academic excellence, spirituality and the ability to enact holistic mission.
In the previous issue of CGST Bulletin, President Stephen Lee mentioned how the CGST curriculum review began with reshaping our ‘Vision and Mission Statement’. We then continue to collect and assimilate the opinion of different CGST stakeholders, including students, alumni and board members, on our overall curriculum and the various programs. During our annual teacher-student forum, students have expressed their wish to increase the number of elective courses, to allow more time for reflection, and to have integrative subjects that are more relevant to actual contexts. We also consulted alumni through questionnaires and focused groups, and communicated with board members to obtain their opinion on the curriculum review.
The 2018 Graduate School New Curriculum is thus the result of reflective and collaborative efforts among our Faculty team and other stakeholders. During the process, we worked together in reflecting upon the current church and societal contexts, making reference to the latest pedagogical innovation, taking note of the opinions collected, balancing the views from different stakeholders, as well as considering factors such as time constraints within the programs.
The new curriculum is designed based on an integrative approach between knowledge and practice. It aims at nurturing reflective collaborators with the ability to reflect in-depth and to collaborate with others. Indeed, to face an increasingly complex era, future pastors and church leaders ought to be reflective at all times, integrating academic knowledge with life experiences to derive practices that live out the gospel faithfully. They need to effectively respond to societal, familial and workplace matters. Besides, whether at church or in society, the cultural ethos nowadays no longer embraces single authority, but seeks team leadership in accordance with the calling and vocation of members involved. Within the team there will be scholar pastors as well as other missional practitioners with all types of gifts and talents. They have to embrace each other’s differences and collaborate towards a common goal. Together, they can make a greater impact.
The pursuit of strenuous scholarship has always been a learning ethos upheld by CGST. Under the new curriculum, students will develop a sound theological and biblical foundation, while at the same time cultivate an ability to integrate different knowledge and respond to actual contexts. In order to do this, all graduate school students will go through a set of foundation courses including biblical studies, theology, church history, spiritual formation, collaborative ministries, etc. in their first year. Students in the Master of Divinity program are also required to study functional biblical Greek and Hebrew. Our purpose is for students to build a solid foundation, examine their calling, plan their own theological journey, and prepare for collaborative learning. After building a foundation knowledge base, integrative courses will help students to learn how various concepts apply to actual contexts from different points of view. In their final year, students will choose their own topic for a capstone project according to their calling and future direction. The new curriculum intentionally reserves space for more elective courses. Students can choose study tracks in the area of biblical languages, pastoral care, Christianity and culture, and marketplace theology, or other elective courses for in-depth learning in the Bible, theological doctrines, history or other practical subjects.
CGST has always been a movement in theological education from the very beginning. We are unwilling to mindlessly follow a routine or become complacent. Instead, we endeavor to continuously renew and transform in response to the changing times. Our wish is to educate a new generation of servant leaders more relevant to the modern era, who can lead the Chinese church community to more closely follow and enact the will of God.