Changing an academic curriculum is often the work of insiders. Scholars steeped in their discipline tracking closely the evolving developments of their fields and designing curriculum accordingly. Recent changes in several of Fuller’s core degrees, while tended with a similar focus and diligence, have also created new opportunities for the seminary’s three schools to work together at focal areas of significant impact. As Fuller faces changing currents in theological education, School of Psychology faculty are embracing invitations to contribute to the seminary’s urgent response. Two examples illustrate how SOP faculty are engaging their training and research to support the development of the changing master’s and Master of Divinity curriculum.
Psychology faculty joined their School of Theology colleagues in the development of a touchstone course for students entering Master of Arts and Master of Divinity programs. The touchstone course explores critical issues of personal and professional formation for students preparing for ministry. Informed by their expertise in psychological assessment, a team of clinical psychology faculty including Mari Clements, Anne Nolty, Seong Park, and Steve Simpson are developing a personal assessment component that will help students highlight areas of personal strength and growth and their implications for future ministry practice. These assessment exercises are designed to enhance a student’s personal formation during their time at Fuller. Additional psychological testing and assessment resources are planned for students who may benefit from a more intensive level of support and focused resources. The course’s focus on assessment and formation will leverage the expertise and skill of our psychology program to enhance student readiness for the emotional and relational demands of ministry.
School of Psychology faculty are also contributing their expertise to the development of seminarywide practice courses focused on worship, mission, and community. SOP faculty member Alexis Abernethy has been actively involved in collaborating with the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts. Her research and psychological insight into worship and spiritual formation illustrate the unique resources made possible through interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Abernethy sees her contributions to the worship practice course as an illustration of Fuller responding to a unique opportunity made possible by the demands of change. In her words, “There have been critical moments at Fuller when I have felt a deep commitment to three-school participation and leadership. It has been invaluable to see how a response to fiscal concerns and enrollment trends might provide an opportunity for creative and innovative course design. I have found the dialogue helped to sharpen and broaden my perspective on worship, providing insight for exercises and assignments that might deepen students’ learning and formation.”
Creating opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and course development impacts both the curriculum and the faculty involved. The process of developing these practice courses promotes unique opportunities to exchange perspectives from different fields of study and to explore innovative pedagogical approaches. Consequently these interdisciplinary efforts are proving essential in deepening both practical and scholarly contributions of our faculty to these essential aspects of Christian life, strengthening Fuller together from the inside out.
James Furrow joined Fuller’s faculty in 1995 and serves as Evelyn and Frank Freed professor of marital and family therapy and chair of the School of Psychology’s Department of Marriage and Family.