New Concentrations at Vanderbilt Divinity
Upon satisfactory completion of the First Semester Orientation Course, the Master Divinity program and Master of Theological Studies require students to select a concentration option based on vocational interests. Students may elect to choose an additional concentration should their schedule permit.
Concentrations aim to prepare students to be service oriented for religious leadership that is contextually focused; socially engaged, spiritually formed; and culturally literate. In other words, as a crucial component to the curriculum, concentrations contribute to students’ development of a disposition toward religious leadership that is transformative.
Description of Concentration
Concentrations are comprised of 12 credit hours including a praxis-oriented course or experience. This latter requirement may be met by field education or an engagement with another praxis as determined by the concentration faculty advisors.
Concentrations embody five Divinity School curricular values:
- Vocationally Relevant. Students are provided an opportunity to engage their vocational interests and sense of call, develop religious leadership capacities and deepen the knowledge needed to critically, thoughtfully, and creatively engage in ministry in all its forms.
- Integrative of theory and praxis with the aim of preparing students for transformative leadership in faith communities and the broader society.
- Interdisciplinary. Concentrations are comprised of courses selected from across the curriculum. The interdisciplinary foci of the concentration strengthen students’ capacity to make the connection between disciplines in the curriculum and the practice of ministry.
- Intersectional in content and analysis. The intersectional nature of the concentrations help students become cognizant of the social factors that shape experience in society. Students learn critical social analysis and religious reflection that informs transformative responses in the embodiment of vocation.
- Infused with the VDS commitments which provide a linchpin between the curriculum and our communal life.
The Concentration Steering Committee is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of at least three faculty members who serve as the advisers for the concentration. The Concentration Convener coordinates the steering committee, course projections, and bi-annual student/faculty conversations.
Current concentrations include:
- Black Religion and Culture Studies
- Chaplaincy (MDiv only)
- Pastoral and Prophetic Congregational Leadership (MDiv only)
- Global Christianities and Interreligious Encounter
- Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
- Prison and Carceral Studies
- Religion and Economic Justice
- Religion and the Arts
- Religion, Gender, and Sexuality
- Spirituality and Social Activism
- Historical understanding of the development of Black religion and culture formations from African roots and beginnings in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the present.
- Explore creative and transformative cultural practices and institutions that empower the spiritual and moral universes of Black religion and culture.
- Critique social forces of oppression and transformative sources of liberation through interdisciplinary analyses.
- Reflect theologically and pastorally on the practice of chaplaincy
- Understanding of institutional culture and systems for effective chaplaincy
- Facility with practicing ritual and prayer in interpersonal, communal, and public contexts
- Competence in theory and facility in the practice of pastoral counseling
- Students will develop perspectives on contemporary ministry such that graduates will proceed into the further practice of ministry as thoughtful and engaged leaders.
- Students will attain skills in the practice of ministry applicable to the practice of congregational leadership.
- Students will engage in an additional unit of congregationally based field education in order to grow under supervision in the capacity for leadership and self-awareness of their own gifts.
- Students will understand how religions emerge out of contact with one another.
- Students will recognize their traditions as contingent, thus open to interpretation, with an awareness of accompanying historical harms and benefits of their tradition. Further, they will value difference and become aware of the dynamics of Christian privilege, with a concomitant commitment towards transformative solidarity not guilt.
- Students will develop the capacity for deep listening and civil discourse across religious difference, thereby becoming more adroit in assessing religious traditions, building constructive alliances, and cultivating respect interreligiously.
- Students will become familiar with the cultural and social history the Mediterranean and Near East as a context for the development of religious traditions.
- Students will become familiar with textual, philological, and material approaches to the study of the religions of the ancient and medieval Mediterranean and Near East.
- Students will gain facility in the teaching and research practices use to study the cultures of the Mediterranean and Near East.
- To develop an understanding of the realities of mass incarceration in the United States.
- To explore the causes and consequences of prison, paying particular attention to issues of race, class, gender and sexuality.
- To mine religious/theological traditions for resources for disrupting the prison industrial complex, and the cradle to prison pipeline.
- Understand and investigate how economics, theology, and religion shape and influence each other.
- Engage economic thought and practice in relation to the history of Christian and other faith traditions in terms of similarities and differences.
- Analyze situations of economic injustice and develop viable alternatives informed by faith traditions in the context of the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class.
- Student will demonstrate creative imagination in at least one of two streams of activity: A) The translation of theological concepts into images, sounds, movements, novels, plays, or poetry. B) In scholarship, preaching, worship design, and other modes of expressive theological reflection.
- Student will put their engagement with the arts into conversation with the broader components of their theological education.
- Student will build a greater recognition of the interconnections between religion and the arts and be able to articulate points of affinity between the two.
- To prepare students with the intellectual and practical tools to work effectively on these issues with communities of faith.
- Reflect ethically, biblically, and pastorally on the practice of activism in light of spirituality
- Understanding and practice? of spirituality as an integral aspect for sustained commitment to social activism
- Developing capacity in creating public spaces for the integration of spirituality in activism