Graduate Theological Union

Interdisciplinary Studies







Scholarship in the humanities and human sciences, and particularly in theological and religious studies, is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. However, relatively few scholars are trained in critically articulating the need for or evaluating the success of such scholarship. Interdisciplinary Studies scholars will be equipped to participate in such conversations within the academy. The Interdisciplinary Studies program is designed for students whose interests are so centrally interdisciplinary that they want to develop critical language to articulate the interdisciplinary shape, implications, and accountabilities of their work. Many of the Areas of the GTU encourage some form of interdisciplinary work, but some students find that the disciplines they wish to combine or the extent of their interdisciplinary scholarship is not suitable for the Area; such students may turn to Interdisciplinary Studies if they meet the criteria outlined below.

IDS students will articulate and critically analyze the model, implications, and accountabilities of their interdisciplinary work; demonstrate the theoretical and methodological grounding in each of their disciplines appropriate to the specific role each discipline/theory plays in their interdisciplinary work; design their programs in relation to a clear articulation of their specific professional goals; demonstrate the ability to participate in professional discourse in their field/s in the academy and in the broader community.

Admissions Requirements
Interdisciplinary Studies applicants must propose in their Statement of Purpose a clearly framed and academically manageable set of interests and course of study for which there are faculty resources at the GTU, secondarily supplemented by UC Berkeley. The applicant must identify at least one discipline represented on the Core Doctoral Faculty as a primary field. The student’s academic advisor will have expertise in that discipline to provide appropriate guidance as to the content of the student’s work. If an appropriate advisor cannot be identified, IDS will be unable to admit the applicant. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the convener of Interdisciplinary Studies well in advance of application deadlines so that they can prepare to submit a statement that is appropriately focused and that fits with the faculty resources of the GTU.

Language Requirements
IDS requires two languages beyond the student's native language, at least one of which must be a modern research language. The languages are determined in consultation with the student's committee and presented to the IDS Area for review and approval.

Course work
The Area requires that students take IDS 6000 (Seminar on Interdisciplinarity) in their first fall semester. This seminar introduces students to the theories and vocabulary of interdisciplinarity, and also provides a context in which they develop and critically consider the shape of their academic program in light of their career goals and their distinctive models of interdisciplinarity. Students are also required to consult with their advisors to identify and take courses that will be necessary for their broad grounding and the development of their specialized research skills. The normal course load for years one and two should be in line with the General Protocol of the GTU Doctoral Program (3 three-unit courses plus 3 units of “Preparation for comps”).

Comprehensive Examinations
IDS comprehensives presuppose a prior grounding in broad disciplines and areas that comprise the student's interdisciplinarity. The grounding is developed with the student's initial advisor and in the required Seminar on Interdisciplinarity, and then refined and approved by the student's comprehensives committee.

The IDS Comprehensive Examinations are a set of four examinations. Two of the examinations establish the grounding of the student in the literature, issues, and theoretical/methodological debates in their major fields or sub-fields. The third is an articulation of their interdisciplinary accountabilities to their fields/sub-fields (sufficient for their doctoral project and for their professional goals) and of their model of interdisciplinary research. The fourth is a research paper exemplifying the interdisciplinary scholarship of the student. See the IDS protocol for more detailed descriptions of these examinations.

Area students are expected to meet all general GTU requirements and standards for the dissertation proposal and the dissertation. Dissertations will be evaluated using the Dissertation Rubric developed by the Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions Area.

Allied Field Requirements
Students who declare IDS as an Allied Field will be required to take IDS 6000, a 5000-level or above course to be approved as appropriate to the student's research focus by the Convener along with a 4-5 page paper on the interdisciplinarity of the course to be reviewed by the IDS seminar instructor, as well as the third "comprehensive" (outlined above).



Core Doctoral Faculty

JUDITH A. BERLING • GTU (Chinese and Comparative Religions) • Interreligious learning; student-centered pedagogy; interreligious education and theological education; East Asian spiritualities.

IBRAHIM ABDURRAHAM FARAJAJÉ • SKSM (Cultural Studies/Islamic Studies) • Study of Islam; history of Sufism; history of Islam; postcolonial theory; diaspora studies; HIV/AIDS; bodies, genders, and space in Islam; videotics.

EDUARDO FERNÁNDEZ, S.J. • JST (Pastoral Theology & Mission) • Relationship between faith and culture; U.S. Hispanic theology and ministry; Hispanic religious expressions; celebration of sacraments in multicultural contexts Mexican history and the history of the southwest; relationship between art, spirituality, and inculturation.

MARION S. GRAU • CDSP (Theology) • Constructive theological approaches to Christian doctrines;  Soteriology; Theological hermeneutics; Theology and Economy; Theologies between cultures; Postcolonial missiology; Ecological theology; Process theology; Post-structuralist, gender, race, class and queer approaches to theology.

BOYUNG LEE • PSR (Religion and Education) • Postcolonialism; Racial/Ethnic Identity and Sexuality; Asian Feminist Theology; Confucian Educational Philosophy; Personhood of Individualism and Communalism; Post-structuralist Pedagogy.

BERNARD SCHLAGER • PSR (History/Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions) • Queer studies; medieval social and religious history; LBGTQ pastoral care.

NAOMI SEIDMAN • GTU (Jewish Culture) • Translation theory and the Bible in translation; secular Jewish culture; modern Jewish literature.


Consortial Faculty Resources

INESE RADZINS • PSR (Theology) • Feminist theory; continental philosophy; Simone Weil; Emanuel Swedenborg.

SUSANNA J. SINGER • CDSP (Ministry Development) • Developing theological and pedagogical strategies in the service of faith commitment in a postmodern context; Holistic Christian education and formation; Transformative learning and reflective practice; Investigating and developing new models of ministry for a changing church and world; Ethnographic and qualitative research.