Michael W. DeLashmutt, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, General Theological Seminary
While formation is one of the distinctive functions of a theological school (along with fostering theological reflection and ministerial practice), it can often feel like a rather nebulous and ill-defined topic. I hope to start a conversation about formation that will help deans (in collaboration with faculty, students, and administrators) to nurture the unique formational cultures of their own institutions. The workshop will have three foci:
• First, I will examine the formation expectations outlined at General Theological Seminary (GTS) for both faculty and students. Faculty formational expectations are enshrined in faculty employment documents and reinforced through a culture of mutual accountability and a shared rule of life. Student formational expectations are described in the academic catalog and reinforced through a formational culture (supported by peers and faculty) and assessed annually as part of their degree requirements.
• Second, I will discuss how we arrived at the values and practices associated with formation at GTS. I will suggest a methodology for developing formational values and practices which, rather than slapping another level of complexity on top of institutional life, are drawn from an institution’s already existing (yet implicit) formational culture
• Finally, I will suggest three approaches to supporting formation at theological schools that have proven helpful to us at GTS. In summary, we encourage students to approach formation through gratitude, not just grit; to be motivated by a shared commitment to a common rule of life, rather than shame and guilt; and we integrate formation into institutional and academic life, rather juxtapose formation alongside existing programing.