We are pleased to announce a new book by Oxford Press, “Clergy Education in America: Religious Leadership and American Public Life,” by Dr. Larry Golemon, Executive Director of the Consortium. It explores how the early seminary traditions of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish communities prepared leadership for religious and public life. In short, the liberal arts pedagogies in these schools equipped pastors, priests, and rabbis as symbolic producers of culture in families, congregations, education, voluntary associations, and popular media. This rich tradition was expanded by schools for women, African Americans, and the white working class to engage American culture from their social locations.
When most seminary traditions later re-aligned with the modern research university, they advanced the specialization of theological disciplines, but jettisoned liberal arts pedagogies and strategies of formation. The net result was to narrow clergy formation from the five social arenas of civic life down to the congregation and education (the former being much more successful). There are lessons here for all forms of theological education, even today.