Public Theology for a New Generation

The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement at Seattle University is pursuing an initiative titled Public Theology for a New Generation.  This is possible through the generous support of principal funders, beginning with the Henry Luce Foundation, and including the Alfred & Tillie Shemanski Testamentary Trust, which supports our Interreligious Initiative at the Center.

The Center is developing new modalities for public theological engagement for classroom and community.  With Center scholars, podcast interviews, community resources, and more, we are tailoring our work to this tech-savvy generation by creating new multi-media content to assist the learner in meaningful and clear way

About the Center: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions of the Center (9.8.21) 

    

What is the history or background? 

The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement at Seattle University began in the Office of the Provost at Seattle University on July 1, 2021. Formerly, a predecessor body called The Center for Religious Wisdom & World Affairs operated through The School of Theology and Ministry (STM) at Seattle University. With the announcement of the closure of STM scheduled for June 2023, the university saw an opportunity for the Center to evolve and expand its reach by focusing on the university’s five-decade commitment to ecumenical and interreligious work, hence the name change. 

    

What is our purpose? 

Whereas within STM, the Center encouraged dialogue in and among a school established for graduate theological education and formation, the Center today is outward-facing and committed to providing programming that impacts both classrooms (undergraduate and graduate) and communities at large. Because of this, we will be hosting critical conversations, creating educational opportunities for local community organizations and groups, and endeavoring alongside national and international NGOs as well as with Jesuit universities worldwide. Additionally, while there are no graduate-level theological degrees maintained through the Center, in this inaugural year we are talking with our partners about future programming that will assist individuals in ways that shape and support their career, vocational trajectories, and communities. 

    

Where are we headed this year? 

The Center is led by a Core Team.  This includes an Advisory Council of leaders and influencers who bring executive and grassroots-level experience from the region and around the world. The 2021-2022 inaugural year of the Center is called our “Listening Year.”  In this crucial time, we will work with all partners to assess our mission, refine the audience, clarify operational priorities, and craft a coherent and comprehensive strategic narrative that positions us for the future and is tailored to the needs of our target audience.   

This year, the job of the Advisory Council will be to meet with its focus groups to define and make a case for future programming that the Center can offer. The Director of the Center will present this plan to the Provost of Seattle University in the spring of 2022. 

    

Who is our target audience? 

Our target audience is four-fold. While these are large groups spanning many age ranges and competencies, the unifying thread of these audiences is a desire to engage in work that responds to the needs of the world, with the Center providing the generative energy for this engagement. 

  • The University Community: This includes staff, faculty and both undergraduate and graduate students, with attention to the current SU Strategic Directions.  This year, the Center scholarly project includes 40% of SU faculty from multiple disciplines; we also draw upon faculty and staff in our Seeking Wisdom Series; we will interview students for sharing podcasts; and we are curating a forthcoming Canvas resource on the interreligious response to a changing climate. 
  • Jesuit Colleges and Universities: The Center will honor the Ignatian commitment to religious literacy affirmed in its General Congregation 34 and deepen relationships with these national and global colleagues. 
  • Ecumenical and Interreligious Partners: From local to international contexts, the Center is collaborating in the creation of resources and opportunities that address societal challenges and is assisting religious leadership (including pastors and spiritual leaders) in helping their own communities. 
  • The Nones and Somes: The Center’s theological laboratory Religica tests messaging that helps reach a population that either none-or-some of the time are connected to a religious community or heritage, sometimes referred to as “spiritual but not religious.” The Religica Theolab is a mechanism for exploring the popular role of religion and wisdom traditions in the world, especially for connecting young generations with theology. 

 

What are our strategic objectives of engagement? 

  • To listen and respond to challenges in the world to which religion is and must continue to be engaged. 
  • To show that spiritual wisdom and religion are comprehensive sources of wonder and awe that will inspire us to be daily agents of hope, change and connection in the world. 
  • To promote religious literacy, dialogue and relationship building with communities both near and far, of all generations, with a commitment to their transformational capacities.
  • To define the strategic direction in late spring 2022 for the immediate future. 

  

What are our tactical objectives of engagement? 

  • To innovate current scholarly projects that align ecumenical and interreligious partnerships for the university. 
  • To create new experiences/deliverables that show how the Center is responding to new and developing needs. 

 

Key takeaway: 

The Center highlights spiritual and religious insight and wisdom, inviting people to enact the change they wish to see in the world. We do this through ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, scholarly projects, engaging with the needs and issues alive for our target audience, and free resources for community and classroom use. In the future, we envision annual programming for in-person and virtual gatherings and educational opportunities.   

  

What is the Center up to now?   

  • Fulfulling the many aspects of our current Henry Luce Foundation Grant, which is dedicated to seeking new ways of communicating theology to a new generation 
  • Creating educational online resources for use in classroom and community 
  • Pursuing ongoing scholarly projects with a current focus on the religious response to injury and repair in what we’re terming “a pandemic age”  
  • Collaborating in peer-reviewed publications on major Center study themes, the latest being homelessness 
  • Interviewing religious influencers around the world for podcasts in our Religica Theolab 
  • Developing web and social media interfaces during this Listening Year 
  • Utilizing focus groups, the Advisory Council, Center Scholars & Fellows, social media engagement, and exploring multiple modalities to increase our ability to listen
  • Curating new experiences/deliverables that show how the Center is responding 
  • Planning strategically for the future of the Center’s consistent and comprehensive engagement 

  

What are new ideas/deliverables/experiences for the Center? 

In this Listening Year, the Center will be developing its creative assessment for the future. If you have ideas to share, please send these directly to the Center Director Dr. Michael Reid Trice at tricem@seattleu.edu or to the Center Team at thecenter@seattleu.edu. 

 

 

Religica Theolab

The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement includes our own theological laboratory: the Religica Theolab.

Visit our Theolab here.