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  • August 30, 2011

    Making the Rounds: Howard University and Catholic University

    Howard School of Divinity

    I had the privilege of meeting with Dean Alton Pollard at Howard recently, to learn of the school’s unique mission and vision for theological studies. It strikes me as a theological lighthouse, that spreads its beam as a vision for the Black and American churches. Increasingly, Howard is embracing inter-disciplinary modes of teaching and research as it shapes theological scholars and ministers. This move is in line with its tradition as one of the earliest Historic Black Colleges and Universities, as these schools evolved to integrate the scholarship of race, culture, and social transformation into the formation of new leadership for church and society. Howard has a strong teaching and research faculty, covering the historic fields of Bible, Theology, History, and Practical theology–but also branching out into the psychology and sociology of religion, African-American history and culture, Muslim studies, and more. Recently, the school was granted the okay to begin a PhD program, which makes it the second one among the Consortium schools. While there, I met several faculty members, Ron Hopson in psychology of religion (and Interim Assistant Dean), Zainab Alwani in Muslim studies, Michael Newheart in New Testament, and a number of committed and gifted staff members. Howard is a great place to study alongside the Black church traditions, but also an outstanding place to engage a new and growing form of interdisciplinary theological thinking. It is only a 15 minute walk from the Brookland-CUA Metro on the Red Line, and it has plenty of parking.

    CUA’s School of Theology and Religious Studies

    Recently, I met with the Interim Dean, Fr. Mark Morozowich and the new Associate Dean for Seminary/Ministry students, Monsignor Stephen Rossetti. From them, I learned of Catholic University’s multiple academic, pastoral, and pontifical degree programs. CU’s STSR strikes me as an intellectual and spiritual dynamo, whose overall mission is to balance academic integrity, theological formation, and pastoral studies. The only Catholic university founded and operated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, it has a distinct legacy of providing intellectual and theological leadership for the entire American Church. CU’s course offerings are vast–in bible, theology, history, pastoral theology, ecumenical studies, religious studies methods, world religions, and more–and its professors are leaders in their fields. While Catholic in perspective, the resources in bibliographies and syllabi are highly ecumenical, and the student body includes a variety of Christian traditions. I also learned that CU plans to add more courses in pastoral theology, spirituality, and related fields over the coming years. I have had the chance to meet several dynamic faculty members, including Charles Jones in world religions (and also Assistant Dean for Academics), Fr. Paul McPartlan in Systematics, Michael Root in Ecumenical Theology and Dialogue, and Pim Valkenburg in World Religions and Muslim-Christian dialogue. CU’s STSR is housed in Caldwell Hall, not far from the Basilica, and only a 5-7 minute walk from the Brookland-CUA Metro on the Red Line.