This year, Princeton Theological Seminary has approved a new curriculum that builds on a decades-long commitment to intellectual excellence to also emphasize emotional, social, and spiritual development. One of the notable changes is an emphasis on how students can enhance their communities with gospel-infused leadership. The result is a program truly dedicated to holistic formation.
The two-year curriculum development process was defined by comprehensive research and study, drafting and testing ideas, prayer, and gathering feedback via regular discussions with faculty members and students. In the end, says Biblical Studies faculty member and task force co-chair Eric D. Barreto, this revised curriculum lifts up traditional strengths of Princeton Seminary like academic excellence, disciplinary rigor, and the richness of a residential theological education. “It also brings those strengths to the central questions the church faces today,” he adds, “which include the pursuit of racial justice, the formation of grace-filled inclusive communities of faith, innovative imaginations for new forms of ministry, and generous care for God’s creation.” The new curriculum will officially launch in fall 2021, though a newly designed course has received positive student feedback (view comments below).
"Our goal is to form leaders within a flourishing Princeton Seminary community, who will pass along these attributes to their future communities and congregations."
Differentiating this curriculum from previous iterations are its five unique core commitment areas, beginning with a Life Together course, a small, capped-enrollment course taught by a faculty member, with assistance from an administrator. A requirement for all incoming masters students, these courses vary in topic depending on the instructor but all include a mix of classroom teaching, service learning in the community, fellowship around meals, and chapel worship. “The idea is to leverage how we learn in different venues, whether that’s conversations on the sidewalks or meals shared in the cafeteria,” says Jacqueline Lapsley, dean and vice president of Academic Affairs and professor of Old Testament. “These courses provide a space for students to reflect together on those experiences.”
Other core commitment areas include spiritual practices of the faith (integrating those practices across disciplines); Theological Imagination courses (placing a theological lens on current topics and issues facing church and society); Christian leadership; and renewal of creation, self, and communities.
“God is interested in and cares deeply about flourishing communities,” says Lapsley. “Our goal is to form leaders within a flourishing Princeton Seminary community, who will pass along these attributes to their future communities and congregations. It is our belief that this new curriculum achieves this like never before.”
STUDENT PILOT COURSE FEEDBACK
The Department of Theology faculty adapted the current TH 2100 Systematic Theology course to reflect the components and desired outcomes of the anticipated “Doing Christian Theology” course in the new curriculum. This is what students had to say about the newly designed course:
"The format of the course as designed by professors Smit and Reichel gave a broad outline of the historic and current conversations in Christian theology. It was helpful to me to understand the different conversations taking place as I go deeper into certain strains of theology. The course is a true building block for all my future studies at PTS and I highly recommend it. The professors' brilliance, passion, generosity, openness, and mutual respect for each other and their students is a model for an ideal learning environment." —Peter Manning, MDiv candidate
"The greatest part of the class was the introduction of various non-dominant theologians, especially Mujerista Theology and Asian Feminist Theology! While I’ve already had encounters with reading Mujerista theologians, I did not have the Asian perspective and Womanist theology. I loved the inclusion of Ellacuria — crucified peoples mixed in with Barth and Moltmann. This makes engaging in theology richer, deeper, and holistic. As a Latinx student I was surprised and very pleased to see 'folks like me' included in the syllabus. Not very many courses reflected the student population, but this class did." —Lissette González Sosa, MDiv candidate
"I really appreciated the approach we took to studying theology in this course. In the first half of the semester we examined different ways of doing theology, such as systematically, historically, or contextually. That made the conversation much richer for me in the second half of the course when we talked about different topics within theology. It was so much richer to learn about theological concepts having a deeper understanding of the different ways people approach the field." —Anna Langholz, MDiv candidate