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First-of-its-kind education doctorate at Southern receives agency approval

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–An academically rigorous doctor of education degree using an innovative residency component at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been approved by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
Students in the new Ed.D. in leadership will be instructed through intensive on-campus seminar work coupled with Internet-related research. In February the seminary received notice of ATS’ approval of the first-of-its-kind degree. The accrediting agency scrutinized the proposed degree in a focused visit at the Louisville, Ky., campus last October.
Southern Seminary’s pace-setting history in research doctoral studies contributed to the agency’s decision to approve the unique degree. “Given the history of Southern Seminary as a pioneer in research doctoral work, it’s appropriate for the seminary now to look to an alternate method of delivery,” Micheal Gilligan, ATS’ director of accreditation and leadership education, said in an interview.
“Particularly promising is its design to pay attention to leadership needs in a new way,” Gilligan said. “The seminary’s great resources and long history in Christian education should equip (it) well for the task of forming leaders.”
Gilligan, for the agency, also praised Southern’s education school administration for their work on the new degree.
“I commend the work of Dennis Williams and Mark Simpson,” Gilligan added. “They have worked hard to develop a program that is sensitive to the needs of constituents and is attentive to high academic quality. Their work has been outstanding.” Williams is dean and Simpson is associate dean of the Southern’s school of Christian education and leadership.
Southern was the first Southern Baptist seminary to offer a research doctorate in education and was the first free-standing seminary in the United States to offer a doctorate more than 100 years ago. The new doctor of education degree joins the education school’s research doctor of philosophy degree.
Students in the new program will take advantage of the latest technology of the electronic age, including the Internet, in completing the unique degree.
“Students in the program will be instructed through a mediated learning model utilizing the seminary’s Internet website, on-line discussion groups, e-mail and intensive seminars held on campus three times per year,” Williams said. According to Simpson, the mediated learning model “employs multimedia technology while providing a faculty-guided, learner-centered curriculum” and permits students to complete the course work while continuing full-time ministry demands.
Williams said the new doctor of education in leadership degree is designed to meet the learning needs of educational ministry professionals. The program is ideal for ministers with a minimum of 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.
Williams noted the composition of the first class of students demonstrates the appeal of the new degree, encompassing senior pastors, ministers of education, denominational agency professionals, Christian school leaders and others specializing in Christian education.
Research seminars will be conducted on campus for two consecutive weeks in early July, followed by Thursday-through-Tuesday extended weekends in early November and in early March. ATS’ Gilligan noted the intensive seminars satisfy residency requirements stipulated by the accrediting agency.
Course work preceding and following the seminars must be completed at home through Internet discussion groups, e-mail, on-line research and utilization of resources posted on the seminary website, according to Simpson.
Seminars will be taught by faculty teams, allowing students to experience the widely recognized education and leadership faculty of Southern Seminary in tandem with guest specialists in the field.
Topics addressed in the seminars will include “Critical Thinking and Learning Assessment,” “Leadership and Management Theory,” “Human Development,” “Contextualization of Ministry,” “Leadership for Church Development,” “Theological Analysis of Educational Assumptions,” “Social Science Research and Statistical Analysis,” “Teaching and Learning: Theory and Practice,” “Administration of Educational Ministries,” “Change, Power and Conflict Management” and the “Integrative Seminar in Educational Leadership.”
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 website (www.sbts.edu/celead/edd/edd.html). Inquiries can also be made by calling 1-800-626-5525, ext. 4813.
The first class of 20 students will begin its studies in July. 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]).

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  • James A. Smith
  • James A. Smith, Sr.
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