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Advancing Professional Opportunities through Applied Interreligious Engagement

Authored by: 
Rabbi Daniel Lehmann

As the GTU anticipates the upcoming inauguration of Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann on October 24, 2019, we are happy to share a series of reflections from President Lehmann highlighting key aspects of his vision for the GTU. In the second of these essays, he offers thoughts about new initiatives that apply the GTU’s approach to interreligious education to critical professional and societal challenges.

Advancing Professional Opportunities through Applied Interreligious Engagement

An Inauguration Reflection by President Lehmann

The GTU is both a community of thinkers and a collective of doers. The faculty and students here combine rigorous academic study across a wide range of wisdom and religious traditions through thoughtful engagement with contemporary challenges. As the GTU advances into a new era, we are actively developing programs and resources that draw upon and apply our unique set of multi-religious, interdisciplinary academic strengths to modern-day professional contexts. With these new offerings, we offer a model that equips leaders to address  the ethical, organizational and spiritual challenges  they face in a variety of corporate and nonprofit ventures. 

As a start, we are initiating several new programs and expanding existing ones that seek to empower working professionals to apply the insights of GTU scholarship in creatively addressing contemporary needs. These applied programs offer exceptional opportunities for expanded partnerships with professional and nonprofit organizations that understand the critical role the wisdom of religious teaching can offer in addressing contemporary needs. Let me offer just a few examples of these new directions.

The first of its kind, we are in the final stages of developing an innovative interreligious chaplaincy program that will offer students the opportunity to gain chaplaincy certification with specific interreligious training, while simultaneously earning an MA degree in Islamic, Jewish, or Hindu Studies. Spiritual care is widely recognized as an essential component of personal health and well-being, yet the range of individuals and communities who can benefit from it have grown increasingly diverse. This new chaplaincy program, which we expect will welcome its first group of students next fall, will provide the practical skills necessary to offer spiritual care in environments of great spiritual and religious diversity, while also grounding each student in a specific, historically underrepresented tradition among institutional chaplains.

We are also planning a new online graduate certificate in interreligious studies designed to attract working professionals in a wide variety of fields. As the first fully online program to be offered by the GTU, this graduate certificate is tailored to meet the needs of today’s professionals across a variety of sectors including healthcare, nonprofit management, social services, public policy, and business. Leaders in these fields recognize that today’s increasingly diverse workplace environment—and the global culture at large—requires new approaches to cultivating sensitivity and inclusive practices as well as forward-thinking strategies that effectively incorporate multiple perspectives.

In addition, we are expanding our Sustainability 360 program, a collaborative multireligious and multidisciplinary initiative that brings the academic study of religion into conversation with ecology, economics, social ethics and other disciplines in the rapidly growing field of Sustainability Studies. The GTU understands that the deep wisdom of the world’s religious traditions can play a part in addressing climate change and other contemporary challenges. Our current initiatives include the development of a new graduate certificate in Sustainability Studies, as well as the convening in 2020 of Sustainable Societies II, a global conference at the GTU that will bring together an international collection of scholars and experts from diverse faith traditions and academic disciplines in the broad field of sustainability. 

Equipping interreligious scholar-leaders to meet contemporary needs—whether it be around spiritual care and chaplaincy, environmental, economic and social sustainable living, or navigating the complexities of religious and cultural diversity in the workplace and the larger culture—is at the very heart of what we do here at the GTU. The GTU is poised to enhance its capacity to respond to the most serious challenges of our time. Our intellectual and spiritual resources will be deployed in new ways as we engage the diverse and complex needs of our increasingly pluralistic world.

Read President Lehmann’s first reflection, on interreligious life, learning and innovation, here.

To learn more about applying to these and other programs at the GTU, contact admissions@gtu.edu

Join the GTU community as we celebrate the inauguration of Rabbi Daniel Lehmann as the Eighth President of the Graduate Theological Union on October 24, 2019. Register Now.