Auburn Seminary Highlights Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry

September 29, 2016

Auburn Seminary, one of the oldest religious institutions in the US, recently released a report on their national longitudinal study on theological education. Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is honored to be featured as one of ten “bright spot” institutions modeling innovative leadership in our multifaith cultural context.

As one of the oldest seminaries in the US, Auburn is a hub for research and training. It inspires action for positive social change on local and global levels. Located in Manhattan, NY, Auburn Seminary contributes to the vision and implementation of “leader-centered experiential education, innovative and groundbreaking research, impactful digital initiatives, and multi-faith justice movement building.” The research and consulting done by Auburn Seminary builds knowledge and evaluates current, historical and prospective models of organization and leadership to identify, train, and propel forward multifaith institutions and leaders to create a more just world. It follows graduate students through their education and when they get out into the world, trying to track what they are learning and doing.


This month, Auburn Seminary published their findings from an investigation of institutions where transformation learning is intersecting with theological education. “Bright Spots in Theological Education” highlights ten bright-spot theological schools and a church where innovative leadership formation occurs. The publication includes a list of ten institutions that serve as exemplary cases in which innovation wins out over the challenging trends in theological education.

Auburn Seminary specifically highlighted the School of Theology and Ministry’s Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership program. In the landscape of Seattle’s unique unreligious and “spiritual but not religious” population, the Transformational Leadership master’s program as well as other programs in the School of Theology and Ministry combines aspects of leadership, spirituality, and social change that moves beyond religious, secular, spiritual, professional, personal and faith-based divides. The School of Theology and Ministry developed the Transformational Leadership master’s program as a contextual and formational leadership program that invites a wide and varied sense of calling. It invites students to “bring their whole selves to work,” whether they find themselves in corporations, nonprofits, churches and faith-based organizations, or other corners of the marketplace.

According to Auburn’s findings, the “bright spot” institutions and programs contribute various insights that have potential to impact our society and to inspire conversations and change in faith-based institutions and leaders. The following are major findings the highlighted institutions have in common:

    • The educational model of schools are shifting to from content transferring to adaptive learning
    • Schools are responding to a widened sense of vocation to faith leadership by developing new programs
    • Administrative leadership is willing to take risks in order to enact necessary change
    • Often, a senior staff or faculty member rallied for innovative change, increasing broad faculty buy-in
    • “Each ‘bright spot’ has marshaled its particular location, tradition, mission, and resources in indigenous ways.”


The school is in good company! All of the institutions selected as “bright spots” are exemplary cases that may inspire conversations and action in other organizations and institutions. Other bright-spot institutions that made the list include: Methodist Theological School of Ohio, Zaytuna College – the first Muslim liberal arts college in the US, Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education – a partnership of Hebrew College and Andover Newton, and Asociación para La Educación Teológica Hispana.

For more information, read or download the publication here!

*Quotes and information from the “Bright Spots in Theological Education”  publication authored by Christian Scharen and Sharon Miller