Field-Based Learning and Contextual Education
Theological field education is at the heart of our efforts to prepare leaders through a combination of traditional classroom studies and practical experiential learning. Field education internships equip students to do the basic tasks of ministry. Beyond this, the opportunities for reflection in the site and seminar support self-knowledge the development of pastoral identity. Field education helps students develop skills of reflection so that they can approach ministry challenges creatively.
At Claremont School of Theology students generally enroll in field education during their second year of full-time study. Students are responsible for arranging their internship placements, with consultation and support from the Director of Field Education and the Director of Internships and Career Services. These staff members work to find placements in ministry settings appropriate to each student's vocational discernment. Many students do internships in congregations, and there are placements in many in other settings such as campus ministry, community service, and justice advocacy organizations. Internships begin in September and conclude in May. Students work 8-10 hours a week in their internship settings and are entrusted with a full range of responsibilities. They also participate in a weekly seminar to discuss their experiences and observations, reflecting both on practical approaches and theological meanings. Each student meets weekly with a trained supervising mentor in the placement and generally also works with a small advisory group that meets monthly.
Ministry in today's challenging environment calls for leaders who are prepared with basic skills as well as with depth of faith that will carry them through uncertain times. Field education seeks to support students' faith development, vocational discernment, and formation as leaders. It is an exciting program for students who come to seminary with eagerness to offer their gifts in service to the church and wider community.