Union Theological Seminary Academics


Integrative & Field-Based Education

“Imagination is a very high sort of seeing, which does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We can't separate imagination from the ethical, the political, the social...it is our opening to what is not yet, what might be, new possibilities..." Maxine Greene

Integrative and Field-based Education (IFE) Program at Union aims to foster learning communities that model and teach students ways of thinking, being, and doing that are integral to their vision of ministerial identity and practice. It cultivates ministerial imagination that is participatory—a knowing by becoming. It is an integration of knowledge, skill, moral integrity, religious tradition, and religious commitments in ministerial practice, which are at the heart of religious leadership formation. In partnership with teaching churches and agencies, the IFE Program provides learning contexts to practice the arts and crafts of religious leadership: critical reflection on practice and theology, exploration of various models for ministry, examination of social issues related to ministry, and development of professional identity and skills.

Integrative and field-based learning as a pedagogy involves the integration three apprenticeships: an intellectual or cognitive apprenticeship, a practical apprenticeship of skill, and an apprenticeship of identity formation. These apprenticeships are practiced through the following experiences:

    • Supervised work in a ministerial field site;
    • Facilitated work in a weekly integrative peer group seminar;
    • Sustained theological reflection and spiritual practices

It is through these practices that fieldwork becomes integrative field-based education.

Field education is a requirement of the M.Div. program taken during the student’s second year.

Books that inform our work

Bass, Dorothy C. and Craig Dykstra, eds, For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education and Christian Ministry. Eerdsman, 2008

Bolman, Lee and Terence Deal, Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership 4th edition. Jossey-Bass, 2008

Brookfield, Stephen, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Jossey-Bass, 1995

Brookfield, Stephen, Developing Critical Thinkers: Challenging Adults to Explore Alternative Ways of Thinking and Acting. Jossey-Bass, 1991

Cahalan, Kathleen A., “Integration in Theological Education” in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology, Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, ed. Blackwell Publishing 2012

Cahalan, Kathleen A., Introducing the Practice of Ministry, Liturgical Press, 2010.

Cranton, Patricia, Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning: A Guide for Educators of Adults. Jossey-Bass, 2006

Duke, James and Howard Stone, How to Think Theologically. Augsburg, 1996.

Foster, Charles R., et al, Educating Clergy: Teaching Practices and Pastoral Imagination. Jossey-Bass, 2006

Freire, Paulo, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Seabury Press, 1970.

hooks, bell, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Routledge Press, 1994.

Kinast, Robert, Making Faith-Sense: Theological Reflection in Everyday Life. Liturgical Press, 1999.

Mahan, Jeffrey, et al, Shared Wisdom: A Guide to Case Study Reflection in Ministry. Abingdon, 1993.

Mezirow, Jack, et al, Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. Jossey-Bass, 2000

Mezirow, Jack, Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass, 1991.

O'Connell Killen, Patricia and deBeer, John, The Art of Theological Reflection. Crossroad, 1995.

Palmer, Parker, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life. Jossey-Bass, 1998

Palmer, Parker and Arthur Zajonc, The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal. Jossey-Bass, 2010

Whitehead, James D. and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead, Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry. HarperCollins, 1980.

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