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International student works with generations of Korean immigrants

Shijung ShimShijung Shim is a self-proclaimed “1.5” Korean-American. Moving from Korea to Seattle with her family as a teenager, she received her middle and high school education here in the States. She remained stateside for her bachelor’s degree in psychology but returned to Korea for her masters in pastoral care and counseling. One particular GTU professor, Lewis Rambo, helped convince Shim to earn a Ph.D. here in Interdisciplinary Studies.

And the Winner is… Alejandro García-Rivera

Alex Garcia-Rivera receives Sarlo award“I’m amazed,” says, Alejandro (Alex) García-Rivera, Professor of Systematic Theology and GTU Core Doctoral Faculty Member, about receiving the 2010 Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award. “I had very little teaching experience when I came here, and at the start, I didn’t know what I was doing. My ‘training’ came — as in an apprenticeship — mostly from colleagues and through trial and error. What I learned along the way is that teaching is about communication, and that if I pay attention to my method of teaching, it can improve and go beyond the apprentice model.” Continuous improvement has paid off. The Sarlo Award recognizes García-Rivera as a teacher who embodies the values of interreligious sensitivity and commitment, interdisciplinary approach and content in teaching, sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity, and creative classroom pedagogical methods and performance.

The View from the Back Pew

Jen OwensIdentity and experience. They continually shape one another and the path of our lives. They have profoundly guided the academic journey of GTU doctoral student Jen Owens.

While earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology at Loyola Marymount, Owens was introduced to Liberation Theology which emphasizes experience. She began to focus on feminist perspectives and her own bi-cultural identity — her father is of European descent and her mother hails from an upper class family in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Historically, Bolivia has been divided between the underrepresented indigenous majority and those descended from European colonizers.

Freedom to Be Outrageous

An Interview with Heup Young Kim, 2009 Alum of the Year I’m trying to construct a theology of the Tao or “Theo-Tao”. The current dualistic way of thinking of the West consists of theo-logos or theology, which is primarily doctrinal, and its counterpart theo-praxis, or action. I try and bring in the Tao, the embodiment of the cosmic way in our historical existence. If you know Tao, you cannot divide knowing and acting. Theo-Tao provides a new paradigm for this millennium characterized by dialogue.

A-twitter with American Buddhist Monk Heng Sure

You might need a list to describe Heng Sure. He’s a Buddhist monk, director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, scholar, member of several interfaith organizations, GTU alumnus, teacher at Pacific School of Religion (PSR), musician, singer-songwriter of Buddhist folksongs, story teller, youth leader, and most recently, a tweeter on Twitter. Or you could drop the list and just say he is real. His name — given to him by his teacher Master Hsuan Hua when he became a monk — translated from Mandarin, means “constantly real.”

Carmen Lansdowne: A Prophetic Voice on Social Justice

The Rev. Carmen Lansdowne is also called Kwisa’lakw by one of the aboriginal peoples of Canada’s central northwest coast. The name, given her by tribal elders at a ceremonial potlatch, means “woman who travels far,” and acknowledges the globetrotting work of this 34-year-old doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Studies. Lansdowne serves on the World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee, representing 560 million Christians in 110 countries and territories.

The Moan and the Shout: James Noel on African American Religious Experience

Take a black sermon, print it in a book, then read it, and you have no idea what it means because it has been abstracted from the living worship of the black church, says the Rev. Dr. James Noel, (Ph.D. ’99), Farlough Professor of African American Christianity at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The sermon’s meaning, he says, is determined by the hymns sung, the testimonials, the prayers said before and after the sermon’s delivery, as well as what went on that week for parishioners. “My fascination is with religious experience and its various modes of expression,” he says, “especially African American religious experience, which is different than that of Europeans or white Americans. The disciplines generated by both the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment aren’t adequate for elucidating black religion, and this has implications for theological education.”

Kathleen Kook helps shape a dynamic, groundbreaking community

Kathleen KookDespite the diversity among the students of incoming classes, they all share one thing in common: Kathleen Kook has been the gateway for their matriculation at GTU. But her responsibility as Associate Dean for Admissions doesn’t stop there. She and her team personally respond throughout the year to all those who inquire about the GTU. Then Kook walks prospective students through the application process and helps them decide what area and program best suits their situation and interests -- an honor according to Kook. She believes that the Admissions department’s strength derives from intentional personal attention to applicants and warmth in receiving them into the community fold. But she says, “The whole GTU is part of the Admissions team,” acknowledging the participation of the many “extraordinary” faculty members and current students who engage prospective students. Kook says that following a scholarly path is a momentous decision, and one of her goals is to ease the transition.

Lewis Rambo - 2009 Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient

Lewis RamboA Godsend. A delight. A surprise. Humbling. These are Lewis Rambo’s words, describing his feelings as the 2009 recipient of the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award. The award recognizes the values of interreligious sensitivity and commitment, interdisciplinary approach and content in teaching, sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity, and creative classroom pedagogical methods and performance.

Why humbling? “Because,” Rambo says, “at this stage in the 30th year of my career at the GTU, I know how much I don’t know.”

MA student Adam Strater receives Haas/Koshland Memorial Award from Jewish Community Endowment Fund

Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) MA student Adam Strater has been awarded the prestigious Haas/Koshland Memorial Award from the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. The award provides the opportunity for a student to spend one year in Israel engaged in study and personal development.
Strater is the second student from the CJS MA program to receive the Haas/Koshland Memorial Award, following Luke Noach Dzmura who received the honor in 2006.

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