The Association seeks to implement its mission by engaging in three core areas of work:
ATS provides a venue for the education of senior administrative officers through conferences and seminars. The Association champions faculty development and the advancement of theological scholarship through two major re-granting programs and workshops related to skills, perceptions, and knowledge crucial to the work of theological educators. Special programmatic support is also provided for new faculty, for women in leadership, both administrators and faculty, and for racial/ethnic administrative leaders and faculty. In addition, ATS supports institutional development through a continuing series of conferences on good governance, an annual workshop on learning assessment, and consultations with faculty.
Issues and Initiatives
The Association conducts practical research and convenes conversations about critical issues to enhance understanding of theological education or to enable schools to develop new skills or perspectives necessary for their advancement. Three initiatives are currently underway:
- Theological Schools and the Church. ATS promotes mutual understanding between theological schools and churches of their respective missions and the relationship between them. ATS is also focusing on the changing character of the religious leadership “workforce” and the relationship of these changes to the theological schools, degree programs, and patterns of educational offerings. This initiative, which includes a reassessment of the purposes, educational goals, curriculum, and educational practices associated with graduate professional degree programs, will contribute to the efforts of the Commission on Accrediting to review and revise the standards and procedures for accreditation between 2008 and 2012.
- Institutional Viability and Financially Stressed Theological Schools. As a significant number of ATS schools face ongoing financial challenges that threaten their ability to attain their respective missions, ATS seeks to identify underlying issues that result in chronic financial stress, short-term remedies, and long-term solutions for healthier financial futures for these schools.
- Christian Ministry in an Increasingly Pluralistic Society. As North America experiences the increasing presence and cultural power of religious communities outside the Christian and Jewish faiths with which ATS schools have been most closely identified, ATS seeks to identify and support those practices that the majority religion in North America should undertake to understand and engage with a theology of world religions and ensure religion’s positive contribution to our pluralistic society.
Communications and Data
ATS publishes the Bulletin as the formal record of its work and Colloquy as its semiannual magazine. It has published the journal, Theological Education, since 1964 and The Fact Book on Theological Education since 1969. A variety of other publications support various emphases and programs. The Association and the ATS Commission on Accrediting maintain comprehensive databases on the member schools and on student attitudes and perceptions about ministry and their theological education. These resources are available for use by the schools, the media, and for the scholarly study of theological education and the theological disciplines.