The Boston College Theology Department will be implementing new changes to the theology core beginning in the fall semester of 2019. These changes are centered around breaking up the year-long course of studies currently offered in two separate classes, according to a release from the Theology Department.
The current requirements for the theology core include a two-semester sequence in which students take two sections of the same course successively with the same professor over the course of the academic year.
With the new revisions to the core, students will be required to complete two separate courses taught by different instructors and do not need to take them in any particular order or back-to-back. One of the courses must be one of two possible “Christian Theology” classes, while the other must be in the “Sacred Texts and Traditions” category, according to the release.
The two Christian Tradition courses are named “Engaging Catholicism” and “God, Self, and Society.”
Most of the Sacred Texts and Traditions classes aim at exposing students to non-Western religious traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. They will address and explore connections between Christianity and other religions, similar to current Religious Quest classes.
Perspectives and PULSE classes will still fulfill the core requirement, but old theology core courses will no longer be offered, beginning in the fall, according to the Theology Department.
Jeffrey Cooley, an associate professor in the theology department, believes that these changes will give students more flexibility in the way they choose to complete their theology core.
“While in many ways, the opportunity to work with the same group of students over the course
of an entire year is pedagogically optimal, what we found is that it was often impractical
for students to do so for scheduling reasons,” he said in an email.
The department hopes that the change will help makes students’ schedules more flexible. Under the change, students can choose to split up their theology courses or take them simultaneously, according to the Theology Department’s summary of the changes.
Another reason the core was redesigned was to allow theology department faculty to teach Enduring Questions and Complex Problems courses, which are all-freshman classes, created as part of the recent Core Renewal program.
“Many of us were enthusiastic about the prospects of participating in these, but
faculty members who regularly taught in the theology core were tied to the two semester
Sequence,” Cooley said. “This made it very difficult for us to participate in a single-semester core course (such as Enduring Questions and Complex Problems), in addition to our elective and graduate instructional obligations.”
The theology department faculty and University administrators spent two to three years deliberating if and how the core requirement should be changed. Faculty members will also work together to determine the best way to prepare for teaching these courses, according to Cooley.
“Some courses in the new theology core (such as God, Self, and Society) are
entirely new formulations, and my colleagues are brainstorming as to how best to
approach them,” Cooley said. “Other courses are reformulations of the two-semester sequences for a single semester. In some ways, such a dramatic redesign is even more challenging than building course from scratch. I myself consider this an opportunity to re-envision my specific class objectives.”
The new core requirements will be effective this fall, and Cooley believes that if the program proves successful, there could potentially be future changes to the theology major as well, including a greater focus on non-Western religions.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor