Last week the CCS Program Review Coordinating Team, the Integrated Program Working Group, and the CCS staff all met at Woodsworth House in Winnipeg for three days to discuss the future shape of the Centre for Christian Studies’ program. Various teams and working groups have been meeting over the past year, usually by skype or conference call, to research, explore, and discuss different key aspects of what it means to educate people for ministry. This was the first chance for some of major players in the program redesign to meet face to face.
Reports were received from most of the working groups and research groups. The Adult Education Research and Reflection Group were looking into what’s new and important in adult education methodologies and theory. The Vocational Formation Research and Reflection Group offered insights into the nature of “calling” and what it means to be formed as a minister. The Context Working Group sent a report exploring significant social, political, economic, and cultural issues in the world and in the church and their impact on our program. The External Course Working Group, the Technology Working Group, the Global Perspectives Working Group, and the Lifelong Learning Working Group all sent notes from their discussions and research. The Diakonia Research and Reflection Group helped to place CCS’s work in a large context of the global diaconate, and the Anglican Caucus (made up of Anglican members of the various working groups) provided some perspective on how the CCS program might best serve Anglican students.
Marylee Stephanson was contracted to review and evaluate the current CCS curriculum. As part of her review, Marylee interviewed a random selection of students and recent graduates, as well as staff, field volunteers, and representatives from other theological schools. She found that for the most part graduates were very enthusiastic about their education and felt that it prepared them well for their work in ministry. She found the quality of the CCS curriculum excellent and its pedagogy and delivery process well thought through.
A key issue in the discussion at the gathering was around how to make the program more accessible – in terms of time, cost, work, and flexibility. It will always be a challenge to fit full-time schooling into an already busy life, but are there ways that we can make theological education and ministry formation less onerous while still maintaining the commitment to transformative learning?
Coming out the Program Review face-to-face this is one of the challenging facing the Integrated Program Working Group (with the support of the staff and the review coordinating team): To pull together all the strands and insights offered by the various working groups and start to chart a course towards the next evolution of the CCS program.
Lori Stewart (CCS staff and member of the Coordinating Team) called the face-to-face meeting “a great example of trusting the process.”
“We had an idea of where we wanted to get to by the end of the meeting, but we had no idea if it would work,” said Lori, reflecting on the three days of hearing reports, pulling out implications, throwing post-it notes up on the wall and re-arranging them, and lots of reflecting. “In the end, we achieved what we wanted.”