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Campus seminar brings together Southern’s on-line Ed.D. students

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Students who already had worked for six weeks in preparatory research and on-line discussion groups met together in person for the first time in July as the inaugural “cohort” of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s new doctor of education in leadership degree.
Representing diverse ministry settings from all regions of the United States, 14 students participated in the first of three annual on-campus intensive seminars. Five of the students hold church staff positions, five work in educational institutions and another four are leaders in publishing ministries.
“We’ve been very pleased with the student response to the program design,” said Mark Simpson, associate dean of Southern Seminary’s school of Christian education and leadership. “The students have quickly formed a cohort of learners and have commented that they are already profiting from this nontraditional learning format.”
The seminar included a course on critical thinking and learning assessment from July 7-10 and a course on leadership and management theory, July 13-16.
The academically rigorous Ed.D. is unique for the use of an innovative residency requirement and Internet resources. The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada approved the degree for accreditation earlier this year.
The degree is designed to meet the learning needs of educational ministry professionals. The program is especially suited for ministers with at least three years of full-time ministry experience who want to earn a doctorate which will enable them to teach at the college or seminary level but are unable to relinquish or suspend their full-time employment and move to Southern’s Louisville campus.
Before attending the July seminar, students participated in six weeks of on-line discussions, one of the requirements of the program. Students posted comments from their ministry settings and from other locales as they traveled for work or vacation. Posts were made from as far and wide as Jerusalem and Montana, Minnesota, California and Washington, D.C. Posts also were received from students while visiting Southern Baptist conference centers in Ridgecrest, N.C., and Glorieta, N.M.
A sampling of their on-line posts indicate the students are grateful for having the opportunity to enlist in the one-of-its-kind program.
“This degree is a godsend,” declared Allen England, minister of education at Highland Baptist Church, Florence, Ala. England said he is already implementing in his ministry things he has learned from the on-line discussions.
“This is very important to me because not only can I continue in my ministry here at HBC, I can learn to improve my performance instead of moving away to school, going through a program and having to wait a few years to use it.”
Rick Thoman told his fellow students, “I consider this to be a privilege to be part of this cohort. … I also have been challenged significantly by this discussion.” Thoman is senior associate pastor of Grace Church of Roseville in Lino Lakes, Minn.
“I am appreciative of those who are providing this Ed.D. format that allows for critical reflection and less ‘groupthink,'” added Brad Thompson, from Germantown, Tenn. Thompson is assistant professor of religious education at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
A church staff member in Colorado said he has looked for such an educational program for nearly 15 years. “No other traditional program I found … combined my two major interests, education and leadership, like this does,” said Mike Mitchell, assistant pastor of Crossroads Church of Denver.
Applications for the next class set to start in July 1999 are due by Jan. 1. The application process must be initiated by e-mail to the seminary’s school of Christian education and leadership ([email protected]).
Prospective students must be admitted first through the seminary’s research doctoral studies department and must hold the master of Christian education degree or master of religious education degree. In addition to other academic requirements, prospective students must demonstrate personal access to the Internet and e-mail and have documented access to local research library resources apart from the Internet.
Detailed information about the new degree is available on the school of Christian education and leadership’s page on Southern Seminary’s Internet web site (www.sbts.edu/celead/edd/edd.html). Inquiries also can be made by calling 1-800-626-5525, ext. 4813.

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