Graduate Theological Union
Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) is a program designed for students who need to develop critical language to articulate the shape, implications, and accountabilities of the interdisciplinary nature 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 a single Area; such students may turn to Interdisciplinary Studies if they meet the criteria outlined below.
IDS students' programs must be suitable to the GTU, that is to say, rooted in at least one of the fields of scholarship in theology and/or religion offered at the GTU, but may draw on other disciplines or critical theory in ways that go beyond the structures of interdisciplinary scholarship allowed by other GTU Area protocols. Interdisciplinary Studies is suitable for students with a clear and focused sense of their research agenda, willing to articulate the reasons for and benefits of their interdisciplinary approach.
Scholarship in the humanities and human sciences, and particularly in theological 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.
Interdisciplinary Studies students are invited to take unusual responsibility in the design of their academic programs and in the identification and recruitment of faculty resources to serve them. Therefore they must come to the GTU with well-defined and appropriately focused academic interests sufficiently clear so that IDS can assign an appropriate initial Advisor and have adequate information to work with the student in the construction of a suitable academic program.
Core Doctoral Faculty
JUDITH A. BERLING • GTU (Chinese and Comparative Religions) • Interreligious dialogue; student-centered pedagogy; interreligious education and theological education; East Asian spiritualities.
EDUARDO FERNANDEZ, 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 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.
FLORA A. KESHGEGIAN • CDSP (Pastoral Theology and Women in Ministry) • Practical theology; women in ministry; theological anthropology violence and reconciliation.
BOYUNG LEE • PSR (Religion and Education) • Communitarian and critical pedagogy; postcolonial biblical pedagogy; Asian American experiences in religious education; racial, ethnic, and sexual identity formation; popular culture and faith formation of the 21st century.
BERNARD SCHLAGER • PSR (History/Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions) • Queer studies; medieval social and religious history; LBGTQ pastoral care.
TAT-SIONG BENNY LIEW • PSR (New Testament) • Inter(con)textual and interdisciplinary reading/studying of the New Testament; colonial/postcolonial studies; gender/sexuality studies; racial/ethnic studies, particularly Asian American studies; philosophical hermeneutics/literary theory; Greco-Roman world.
INESE RADZINS • PSR (Theology) • Feminist theory; continental philosophy; Simone Weil; Emanuel Swedenborg.
SUSANNA SINGER • CDSP (Ministry Development) • Religious identity and effective strategies for its formation in a postmodern context; transformative learning and leadership; emerging models of ministry, particularly those that empower the ministry of all baptized; emerging new models for professional theological education.
PHILIP WICKERI • (Evangelism and Mission; Ecumenical Studies) Missiology and intercultural theology; mission, globalization and religious pluralism; ecumenism; history of Christianity in Asia.
Interdisciplinary Studies programs are supervised by the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, which, along with the advisor, helps the student craft a distinctive program that reflects the student’s interests, has academic integrity, and is responsibly interdisciplinary. The Committee pays special attention to: the scope and clarity of the student’s study and research agenda; the student’s language preparation for research; the background preparation for comprehensive (qualifying) examinations, including grounding in the fields the student is bringing together; the membership of a student’s comprehensive (qualifying) examinations and dissertation committees; the articulation of the student’s interdisciplinarity in relationship to scholarly and career goals; and the progress of the student toward his/her career goals.
The ecumenical environment of the GTU consortium offers a chance to study and appreciate religious traditions and expressions different from the student's own experience. Students in all fields of specialization are encouraged to locate critically the place of their tradition, scholarship, and topic within the scholarship of theological religious studies.
The GTU offers two different degrees on the doctoral level, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Doctor of Theology (Th.D.). The standards for the two degrees are identical, but the focus is different. In general, the Th.D. is more narrowly theologically focused, and works with disciplines internal to the GTU. Ph.D. students are required to include on their comprehensive (qualifying) examination and dissertation committees scholars engaged in university-based research disciplines. Given their limited cross-registration privileges at UCB, Th.D. students cannot pursue topics for which university-related work would be central; conversely, Ph.D. students are required to work with university faculty. If the student's primary area/discipline within the GTU does not allow the Th.D. option because of the central necessity of work in university disciplines, then an IDS student could not pursue a Th.D. within that primary area/discipline.
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 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.
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.
In the context of the required Seminar on Interdisciplinarity (see below), students develop a “Draft Academic Plan,” which specifies in writing their academic interests and career goals; the background they bring into the program (course work, but also other reading or work experiences that are relevant to the substance of their program); the disciplines or theories that comprise their interdisciplinarity; the sort of dissertation they envision writing. This “Draft Academic Plan” is developed and revised in the course of the seminar, and submitted to both the seminar professor and the student’s advisor for use as an ongoing advising tool.
Every Interdisciplinary Studies student must meet the minimal GTU language requirement of one modern research language. In addition, students are expected to show proficiency in any other research, classical, or field work language(s) necessary for their planned specializations. In consultation with the advisor, the student submits in the first year of their program a language proposal, which articulates in writing the focus of the programs and the modern and pre-modern languages which such a program of study requires. The proposal is presented to the Area, and must be formally approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee.
IDS students are required to take IDS 6000 (Seminar on Interdisciplinarity) in the fall semester of their first year at GTU. 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 ground and the development of their specialized research skills.
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. A summary of the Broad Grounding is submitted to the Area along with the proposal for Comprehensive Examinations. The IDS Comprehensive Examinations are normally a set of three examinations, although students may opt for a fourth if they and their committee deem it necessary. 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 a research paper exemplifying the interdisciplinary scholarship of the student. See the IDS protocol for more detailed descriptions of these examinations.
Dissertation proposals conform to the general rubrics of the GTU doctoral program. Special attention is given by the IDS committee to the coherence, scope, focus, method, and interdisciplinarity of the proposal.
- The IDS Seminar, including the seminar paper required for the course that articulates the student's own mode(s) of interdisciplinarity and communities of accountability in relationship to both scholarly and professional goals.
- Attendance at the Advanced IDS workshop, a half day seminar for students completing comprehensives and moving on to dissertation.