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Explorations in Theology Program

The word "theology" is something of a vague or even strange term to many people, and the idea of studying theology can be an intimidating thought, even to people of deep faith. The word is often associated only with ordained ministers, but it is the conviction of St. Mary's Seminary & University that theology is relevant for everyone. In fact, historically, most Ecumenical Institute of Theology students have been (and are) lay people planning to remain lay people.

One of the most significant definitions of theology in the Christian tradition is "faith seeking understanding." For decades, many students at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology have begun their studies simply out of a desire to understand the Bible, or their own tradition (and perhaps the traditions of others), or contemporary issues more accurately and more fully.

Explorations in Theology is a series of courses established for people considering serious study of theology, religion, and ethics for the first time. It is designed to introduce beginning students to major dimensions of the theological tradition and to help them better understand some of the great religious and ethical issues of our time.

Courses in the Explorations in Theology program have no prerequisites or corequisites, and most do not require a research paper (except BS600 and TH601, which are designed in part to teach research skills). Grading is based primarily on class participation, analytical papers, reaction papers, and/or exams.

Among the courses offered in this program are the following:

  • BS502 Paul
  • BS563 The Book of Job
  • BS565 Jesus in History and Film
  • BS600 Orientation to Biblical Studies
  • MT509 God & Mammon: Business & Professional Ethics
  • MT/ST529 The Theology & Ethics of Bonhoeffer
  • MT531 Creation, Covenant & Ecology
  • PT/SP512 Music in the Christian Tradition
  • SP601 Foundations of Christian Spirituality
  • SP607 God, Creation & the Spiritual Life
  • SP515 The Theology & Practice of Prayer
  • ST518 The Writings of C.S. Lewis
  • ST680 God and Science
  • TH601 Introduction to Theological Study, Research and Writing

Additional courses are being planned.

Note: All 500-level courses are co-listed at the 700-level (e.g. BS502/702 Paul) so that certificate and degree candidates may take them, too (at the 700 level), usually with a required research paper.

Students interested in Explorations apply to the Ecumenical Institute as graduate-credit students without declaring interest in a particular certificate or degree program. They may then take any courses without co- or prerequisites, as well as any other courses for which they fulfill the co- or prerequisites, including the 700-level versions of courses co-listed as both 500- and 700-level courses.

Students who later decide to matriculate into a certificate or degree program may count up to two 500-level courses (and any number of 600- or 700-level courses) that they have taken, as long as the courses fulfill core requirements or elective slots in the chosen certificate or degree program. Matriculated degree and certificate candidates may not enroll in 500-level courses but must register for those courses at the 700 level.

Students in the Explorations in Theology program are assigned an advisor to help them think about their selection of courses and their decisions regarding further theological study.

Click here to see some of the Explorations in Theology course descriptions.