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Many visitors are surprised by what they see when they first set foot inside Union. On the outside, the seminary’s imposing stone walls and gargoyles suggest that what goes on inside must involve weighty, ancient matters. Such an impression is not wrong—the topics taught at Union are as formidable as the gothic walls housing its classes. But this impression doesn’t tell the full story.

Just inside is a spacious courtyard, where on a summer’s day birdsong drowns out the noise from Broadway. Here, the world feels open, inviting, and as changing as the seasons displayed by the New York City sky above.

A Union education develops practices of mind and body that foster intellectual and academic excellence, social justice, and compassionate wisdom.

This combination of sturdy walls and open space describes not only Union’s physical space, it also captures the spirit of its community. Union students herald from neighborhoods as close as Harlem and as far as India. They claim faith traditions ranging from Baptist to Buddhist to the blessedly undefined. Their questions and passions are as diverse as the faculty that teach them—philosophers, critics, artists, theologians, scripture scholars, poets, and preachers.

Students learn the critical skills of disciplined thinking along with the deeper abilities of love, care, and community building. Concrete practices are cherished as much as abstract theory, strength as much as vulnerability, and certainty as much as informed doubt. In the classroom, contemporary issues are paired with incisive thinking and an innovative spirit, and that spirit of innovation has never been more alive than it is today.

Union is committed to helping students become the leaders–pastors, prophets, public servants–who can serve the world’s needs. Leaders both wise and loving, both courageous and gentle. As one recent graduate described it, “Union grows ministers and social justice leaders with big hearts and a big faith and who are ready to take on a big world.”

Whether in the church, the academy, or in society at large, Union provides the tools and preparation students need to fulfill their calling in the world.