GTU students range in age from mid-twenties to early seventies, and have families and/or obligations within their communities, denominations, and/or professional networks. Not all live in Berkeley, and many find it necessary to work to support their studies. Therefore, to have a sense of belonging to the GTU community is essential for a meaningful time at the GTU. Community is something that is built intentionally by committed individuals. Student groups provide avenues for building communities of shared interests and experiences.
Students are encouraged to organize support groups and the Dean's Office is happy to help publicize their formation and meetings through the Dean's Newsletter. If you are interested in creating a group, please contact the Director of Student Life, Chaitanya Motupalli at email@example.com.
Current Active Groups
African Students' Association (ASA)
Asiyekujua hakudhamini. This is a Kiswahili saying that implies that a person that does not know you well, cannot accord you your rightful value. This aptly captures the experience of alien-ness among most African students around here. The African Students’ Association (ASA) at the GTU aims to bring the African graduate students across the consortium together with the primary aim of fostering a solid African identity within the GTU Community, and beyond. As such, the core intention is to harness our collective efforts in supporting each other along our sojourn here, while exploring avenues to better the lot of our vast, beloved continent. In addition, it is our earnest hope that the ASA will provide a timely, much-needed platform for forging mutually beneficial collaboration/s within the association, as well as with potential allies. Following are some of ASA’s specific objectives: 1) Endeavor to provide a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for African students. 2) Meet occasionally to deliberate on matters pertaining to our lives, families, and research projects. 3) To socialize and fraternize in the context of sharing our rich African life, unique culture and pan-African sensibilities, both among ourselves and with other interested parties, and 4) To create forums that will enable our hitherto novel African voices to be heard within the GTU setting and beyond, to the end that our experience of “dislocation” is transformed into resourcefulness—through our unique contributions on the intellectual, religious and socio-cultural arenas.
For any additional thoughts, proposals, and/or further inquiries on how best to collaborate, kindly reach out to the co-leaders: Gilbert Duah Otuo-Acheampong (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Mwaambi G. Mbûûi (email@example.com).
Beloved Community Students Union
The Beloved Community Students Union (BCSU) is an initiative that is aimed at building an inclusive and intentional community of love and friendship. It proactively battles against the dehumanizing experiences of isolation, loneliness, and alienation, which often affect international students and socially disadvantaged persons. BCSU is focused on sharing meals, even hosting free dinners, that nourish body, mind, and soul and foster growth and sur-"thrive"-al. It also provides spiritual support and hospitality to all, so it is open to all members of the GTU community and their significant others, as well as interested individuals from UC Berkeley.
The activities of BCSU include weekday/Friday night cook-out/dinners on a smaller scale, community dinners on a larger scale that include games, story-telling, musical performances, presentations, etc.
Black Students' Caucus
The Black Students’ Caucus is designed with the core intention of serving as an umbrella outfit for all those who wish to identify with Blackness—in its broadest sense: African Americans, Africans recently “translated” from the Motherland, those from the Caribbean, in addition to all other Diasporic iterations of being Black. Focused on the needs of the Black fraternity at the GTU and its constituent schools, the BSC seeks to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for Black folks and their allies; this in turn is geared towards the cultivation of a sense of belonging for the community members, whereby a mutual flourishing is not only imaginable, but concretely realizable. To that end, some of the aspirations of the BSC include: 1) To facilitate a common ground where diverse components of the Black constituency converge with a goal to engage in generous exchange of ideas and resources on their respective identities, stories and unique contributions; 2) To create an enabling environment for each constituent grouping to thrive, through sustained attention to their particular opportunities and challenges; 3) To foster a culture of authenticity, respect and deep interest in boldly engaging those hitherto perceived as the Other, coupled with a readiness to gainfully steward the awkwardness and even pain that such a noble venture might elicit, with honor and integrity, and 4) To model an ethos of collaboration over competition, in the spirit of the forceful Swahili saying, Umoja ni nguvu; Utengano ni udhaifu (Unity is strength; division weakens).
The activities of BSC include cultural fetes, with display of music, foods, and traditionalregalia among others; academic presentations and debates that seek to highlight the rich heritage represented by each constituent grouping; and context-specific circle gatherings meant as occasions to reboot within the confines of one’s “village.”
The Creatives’ Cove group is conceived and envisioned as a retreat space for artists of all shades, interests and abilities to converge and create, all within an atmosphere of trust and playful abandon. As there is no rubric against which to gauge one’s work of art, the multifaceted iterations of the Cove will encapsulate the following objectives: a) Provide a place of refuge for artists to connect and engage in collaborative artistry; b) Foster a culture of holistic integration of life’s pursuits, to the end that the artists’ academic responsibilities and their creative impulses are less commonly construed as mutually exclusive; c) Serve as both brooding spaces and conduits for bridge-building conversations that hopefully culminate in greater border-crossing initiatives with broadly impactful outcomes, and d) Help facilitate meaningful relationship-building that ensues in an organic merging of the individual artist’s experience/s in academia, and branching onto the polis—the public sphere.
Typically, a Creatives’ Cove forum would include activities such as song-sharing/writing, painting and drawing, poetry, story-telling, drumming, cooking and baking, knitting, gardening, and trying out new stuff, among a host others. Just to reiterate, there will be only one chief agenda for any Cove assembly: Creating with Fun!
To find out more on any upcoming activities or to just share some insightful and exciting ideas on strategies to make Cove experiences unforgettably meaningful, kindly reach out to the co-leaders: G.M. M’Imwonyo Mbui (firstname.lastname@example.org), Charissa Jaeger-Sanders (email@example.com) or Lydia Webster (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on Instagram and Facebook!
GTU Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy Network
The GTU Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy Network (GTU-SCCN) is an interreligious, cross-campus collaboration dedicated to informing, enriching, and promoting knowledge, skills, and community among students of varying interest in spiritual care and chaplaincy – from the career-focused to the just-curious. Activities include guest speakers, workshops, advocacy, and community building. We are a student-run organization that emphasizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. We welcome students of all traditions and identities, and work to create an inclusive environment for individuals of underrepresented backgrounds.
For more information, or to receive event notices contact Mary-Rose “Janani” Engle at email@example.com
Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement
The Church Divinity School of the Pacific and the GTU collaborate in hosting this student group. The objectives of this group are:
1) To build community and relationship across religious affiliations.
2) To engage in interreligious dialogue focused on theology and lived experience.
3) To be a space for growth, challenges, insights, and deepening of our faith, traditions, and spirituality.
International Student Association
The International Student Association, GTU is a student organization at the Graduate Theological Union for all international students and scholars. ISA aims to: 1) foster spiritual, intellectual, mental wellbeing of all international students; 2) support and provide assistance in all possible ways to international students, especially to those that are coming to the United States for the first time; and 3) create an inclusive space for all international students from all backgrounds to explore academic excellence, establish cross-cultural fellowships, embrace diversities, provide space to voice their opinions and promote healthy friendships.
By sponsoring/co-sponsoring events, activities, forums and discussion, ISA hopes to build a vibrant community, and foster cross-cultural friendships at the GTU. Also, ISA seeks to advocate for interreligious learning and dialogue in the global society by embracing and celebrating cultural and religious diversity, and inclusion.
ISA works closely with the Admissions office, Office of the Dean and Director of Student life to provide assistance to international prospective students in their application, housing, visa, and provide information related to studies and life at GTU, Berkeley. If you are a prospective student and if you are seeking guidance with regard to any of the above matters, please do reach out to Jieun Yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Korean Student Association
GTU Korean Student Association (GTU KSA) is a group established to serve Korean-American and Korean students pursuing various degrees from GTU and its member schools. The main purpose of the Association is to share Korean cultural heritages with GTU community and to foster interaction among the members. Given the diversity in denominations, GTU KSA facilitates networking and ecumenical dialogue among the membership. The students of KSA actively participate in local Korean congregations in the Bay Area and bring theological richness to the churches.
The activities of GTU KSA include traditional Korean Dinners, area discussions, and public lectures. The Association also leads worship services for GTU member schools as well as cultural celebrations for the community.
You may contact the Korean Student Association through its president, Kyoungdeuk Min (email@example.com).
Elected Student Committees
Student Advisory Committee
The Student Advisory Committee (SAC) consists of six doctoral students serving rotating two-year terms. The SAC meets several times a semester (starting early in each semester) for one and a half hours with the Director of Student Life (As needed, SAC has the option to invite the Academic Dean to the meetings). SAC advises the administration and proactively advocates on behalf of student needs/concerns/issues. Specific duties include: formally participating in the incoming doctoral student orientation; hosting at least one open meeting with students per semester (the meeting is held early in the semester to leave time to follow-up on issues raised); collaborating with the Director of Student Life (and the Associate Dean of Students and the Academic Dean, as needed) to develop accountability procedures to make sure that student concerns are addressed; working with the Director of Student Life to make sure the composition of the SAC addresses the diversity among the students.
SAC members for the 2021-2022 academic year are: Emily Pothast (HCSR), Gideon Mbui (THET), Javney Mohr (THET), Joshua Garcia (SATX), Nosizwe Breaux-Abdur-Rahman (HCSR), and Victoria Price (HCSR).
You may contact the SAC by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
Charissa Jaeger-Sanders (THET)
Keyona Lazenby (REPR)
Jieun Yoon (SATX)
Rachelle Elizabeth (THET)
Justin Grosnick (THET)
Student Representative to the SBL
Joby Joy (SATX)
Student Representative to the AAR
James Smith (REPR)