The Dean's Blog: soulimprov.com
"This year, we have invited our faculty, staff, students, alumni, partners and friends to consider: What questions have I asked that have defined my story— even to the extent of shaping my decisions and the contributions I choose to make?
Beginning with our first words as infants, questions of meaning pour from our mouths: Why?, What is this?, Why is this happening?, Who should I become, What should I do with my life?. These questions, and many more, set the foundations for the stories of our lives. They shape the way we think, feel and interpret the world, give motivation to our action, and often determine the level of satisfaction we have with our life and work. These deeply personal questions, and what we do with them, make all the difference in the way we ultimately choose to live our lives, the relationships we invest in, and the kinds of contributions we decide to make to the world.
What questions are you asking? Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry is designed to create space for you to ask the unique questions that will help you define your story and your contributions to the world. With an outstanding faculty, national and international resources, and connections with like-minded educators dedicated to building a more just and humane world, we address head-on the critical questions of this profoundly distinct time in the human story.
Unprecedented changes are cascading across our individual stories, and the stories of every person and culture in the world. We invite you to join us for some of our programming this year as we continue to ask, to explore, to listen, and to dream. Together let us clarify our distinctive contribution in making the world a better place. Thank you for your support and participation in this journey together."
Mark S. Markuly, Ph.D. has been Dean and Professor of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University since 2007. Dr. Markuly has specialized in interdisciplinary areas of study, particularly cognitive science and religion, the interface between educational psychology, sociology and anthropology with theology and religion, and the application of religious insight to other professional fields, such as criminal justice, specifically in the area of restorative justice.
Markuly teaches in the areas of religion and culture, the psychology of religion, and religious education, and has a reputation as an academic leader for creating educational programs that bring together people of different religious traditions to overcome their misunderstandings and find common ground on important issues. He is also known for creating programs that place theological concepts and themes in dialogue with a broader secular culture, such as the highly successful Seattle University event, the Search for Meaning Book Festival. This interfaith program has grown into a unique type of book fair in the U.S., and has become the biggest event in the 124-year history of Seattle University. Markuly also has built graduate degree programs integrating the knowledge and skills sets required in specific professions with theological insights and ministerial skills. At Loyola University New Orleans he created dual degrees between theology and criminal justice and theology and business, and at Seattle University he led the faculty in creating the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership (MATL), which connects leadership theory, social analysis, theological insight, and ministerial skill. The degree, which is also available in the form of a dual degree with the Juris Doctorate (JD) in the university’s School of Law, has built an entirely new category of “seminary” student, often known by the sociological category of “spiritual but not religious.”
In his capacity as an educational theorist, Markuly has worked as a consultant in the creation, implementation and analysis of national religious surveys, including projects at Georgetown University, and the creation and norming of instruments to measure Social and Emotional Intelligence and the effectiveness of religious education. He has served as a consultant to a half dozen religious publishers, as well as national religious organizations and private foundations that provide funding to theological education.
Markuly has a bachelor degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, a master degree in systematic theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology, and a Ph.D. in education from St. Louis University, with an emphasis in learning theory and instructional strategies. In addition, he has extensive academic study in philosophy and graduate pastoral theology, with internships in prisons, hospitals, inner city parishes, and multi-cultural ministry on the U.S.-Mexican border. He has published articles and chapters in books in the areas of business and theology, religious education, and religion and culture, and has served as a writer and producer for a documentary on racism, Enduring Faith, which was published by Harcourt Publishing. He is also the co-author of the first national program integrating sports with religious education – Win the Prize – an educational resource published by Concordia Publishing Co.
Markuly frequently serves as an op-ed writer in print or on-line publications, as well as a commentator on religion and culture for radio and television news. He operates a blog entitled, SoulImprov. He has lectured on issues related to religion and culture, the psychology and neurology of religion, religious education and interreligious dialogue in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Markuly’s interest in making religious traditions relevant to modern challenges is born of a diverse professional background prior to entering higher education. After completing his undergraduate degree, he served as a freelance journalist in the United States and Europe, a newspaper reporter and editor, and an AFL-CIO carpenter and the co-owner of a design-build commercial construction company, specializing in computer rooms, clean rooms and radio frequency shielded rooms. He is also the former director of campus ministry in an ecumenical context at a state university (University of Southern Illinois at Edwardsville), the director of religious education for a region of 28 counties in Southern Illinois, managing the programs in 127 parishes and 47 private schools (the Catholic Diocese of Illinois), and the director of an international distance education program (at Loyola University New Orleans), which educated leaders in 26 states and five foreign nations – Scotland, England, Canada, Switzerland, and Belize.
Since arriving at Seattle University in 2007, Markuly has guided the School of Theology and Ministry from an institution with a strong local and regional reputation in graduate ecumenical theology to a school with a high national profile, and a growing international visibility. He was able to help the school lure, for instance, Dr. Michael Kinnamon, the outgoing General Secretary for the National Council of Churches, to serve on a three-year contract as the Spehar-Halligan Professor for Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies. Kinnamon is known throughout the world for his work in ecumenism and interfaith work, and has spent his last three years of full-time work at the school.
Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is now known throughout the United States, and in certain parts of the world, for graduate education that specializes in interreligious dialogue and collaboration, educational engagement of the “spiritual but not religious” demographic, and the doing of a “public theology,” which brings religious wisdom into dialogue in the public square around contemporary events in an appropriate fashion. While serving as dean, the School of Theology and Ministry has acquired support from major national foundations and private funders for all three of these areas, and school faculty are frequently on the short list as presenters and attendees at conferences dealing with these complex areas of study.
The School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University has created a new niche in theological education—a school dedicated to educating religious leadership, but also providing spiritually-informed resources for people of faith working in many other professions.