CST Moves to Bolster Interreligious Ties
Claremont School of Theology (CST) has moved to expand its interreligious ties with several graduate theological schools located across Southern California. The School, one of 13 graduate institutions officially affiliated with The United Methodist Church, has pursued a series of direct agreements with Buddhist, Muslim, and Jewish institutions in recent months. The agreements will allow CST students to enroll in classes offered by partner institutions, and vice versa.
“We believe that these agreements illustrate our ongoing commitment to interreligious education,” said CST President Jeffrey Kuan. “It continues to be the contention of Claremont School of Theology that the pluralistic nature of 21st century religious life demands leaders who are conversant across religious traditions. Moving forward, our students will have direct access to a broad range of courses that will empower and enable them to grow as religious leaders for the complex world in which we live.”
Cross-registration agreements have already been reached with University of the West – a Buddhist institution based in Rosemead, CA, and Bayan Claremont – a Muslim graduate theological school that operates as a program of Claremont School of Theology. The details of a similar agreement with the Los Angeles-based Academy of Jewish Religion, California are currently being finalized.
The agreements have followed Claremont School of Theology’s decision to end its relationship with Claremont Lincoln University in April. That decision resulted from a mutual agreement that the schools’ philosophies had diverged. The Claremont School of Theology Board of Trustees reinforced that decision last week through a vote not to take part in a restructured consortium proposed by Claremont Lincoln University. The board simultaneously supported Bayan Claremont’s status as a program of the School.
Prior to the dissolution of the relationship between Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University, students could pursue coursework at member institutions through the Claremont Lincoln University consortium. Students may now register directly with the host institution.
The Rev. Patricia Farris, who serves on the Claremont School of Theology Board of Trustees and chairs the School’s Strategic Planning Committee, stressed the importance of fostering interreligious relationships with local graduate theological schools. “From its earliest days, Claremont School of Theology has been committed to creating opportunities for students to grow as religious leaders through exposure to beliefs and practices different from their own,” Farris said. “As we live into the next chapter of our School’s history, it is imperative that we continue to challenge our students in their spiritual, intellectual, personal growth.”
In addition to these cross-registration agreements, Claremont School of Theology is actively pursuing opportunities to expand its interreligious engagements. Among the initiatives already being considered include an interreligious internship program that would place students in teams with colleagues of differing religious traditions. Starting next fall, students at Claremont School of Theology will be able to enroll in courses taught by adjunct faculty on Hinduism and Buddhism.
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