A challenge for our curriculum

/ 27 August 2012

Luther’s involved in an extensive process of curriculum revision at the moment. We’re thinking about learning outcomes, we’re talking with our varied constituencies, we’re exploring what other schools are doing. All of that is excellent work and needs to continue. But I will confess to some small desire to ALSO think in terms of “what would I most like to teach? what seems most urgent to me for our students to learn?”

Take, for instance, this set of books that have come out in the last couple of years:

  • The Samaritans Dilemma
  • Republic, Lost
  • Don't Buy It
  • Here Comes Everybody
  • The Two Income Trap
  • The Wealth of Networks
  • What Money Can't Buy </ul>

    I think the ideas these books hold are crucial for engaging the world we live in, for thinking through the challenges of what it means to be a community for each other, for appropriate stewardship -- and these are only a few of the books out there that engage those issues in the United States. But I cannot imagine a course within which I could use all of them. Some of that has to do with the disciplinary boundaries in the theological academy. Some of that has to do with the demands placed upon our curriculum by other bodies (the ATS, the ELCA, and so on). But a lot of it has to do with our desire to avoid difficult discussion in which we, as faculty, are not the experts -- not to mention the fear of being accused of inappropriate partiality.

    So what does this kind of challenge say about the state of seminary curricula today?