Graduate Theological Union

Interreligious Studies at the GTU

Something new is happening at the GTU: a new M.A. area of concentration in Interreligious Studies (IR) will begin in fall 2012. Applications are due February 1 for the first class of students.

But wait! Hasn't the GTU been doing Interreligious Studies since we were founded in 1962? Aren't we the largest partnership of ecumenical and interreligious graduate schools and centers in the country? Yes, of course. But this new M.A. area will give students the opportunity to focus their courses and thesis research on an emerging field that is growing in importance all across the world. Here is how the faculty group that developed the proposal for the new IR area have described it:

"Broadly speaking, the purpose of the M.A. area of concentration in Interreligious Studies is to foster the study of multiple religious traditions, their practitioners, and their expressions in different cultural contexts. This area is designed to be open to studies that are oriented to fields within both theological studies and religious studies. Topics of focus and methodologies might include historical and contemporary relations between religious traditions, comparative theology, comparative religion, interreligious dialogue, and interreligious pastoral practices."

Students studying for the M.A. in Interreligious Studies from the GTU could prepare themselves for multiple career tracks. Obviously, this program would serve as foundational for a Ph.D. in a related field. Other students might use this degree to prepare for forms of interreligious ministry (this might be especially attractive for students pursuing dual M.Div./M.A. degrees). Other students could use this degree to prepare for teaching in religious education institutions at the secondary level. Still others might use this degree for work with non-profit and non-governmental organizations.

We are grateful to the faculty who have worked hard to develop the plan for the new IR area: Deena Aranoff (CJS), Judith Bering (GTU), Thomas Cattoi (JST), Ibrahim Farajaje (SKSM), Marianne Farina (DSPT), Marion Grau (CDSP), Munir Jiwa (CIS), Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski (CDSP), and Heng Sure (PSR). Their proposal received enthusiastic support from the Council of Deans and the Core Doctoral Faculty on its way to approval by the Academic Committee of the GTU Board of Trustees in October.

You've heard the saying that "everything old is new again!" The GTU's "old" commitment to learning from religious differences has led us to this exciting "new" academic area of concentration in our consortial M.A. program. We look forward to the renewed energy that students in this area will bring to our community as we continue to explore the richness of our diverse religious traditions.

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