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Student Spotlight

Projects in the classroom and beyond

CTU Students around the US Lead Group Discussions on Intercultural Communications

MAPS student Elia Cardenas (bottom left with book) of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, is among 14 students who have just completed a four-week online January term course at CTU: WMP4000A Communication Skills for Ministry: Intercultural Communications. Their final project called for them to gather a small group together in their local area to discuss the participants’ experience of intercultural communications. More than 100 people, ranging in age from 12 to 82, gathered in the course of the 14 hour- to two-hour sessions that the students conducted around the country: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. To stimulate people’s imaginations as they responded to a question posed about the values of the cultures in which they grew up, the students offered participants the opportunity to choose from among 20 black-and-white photos the one or two images that “spoke” to them. (In the group photo above they shared the images they chose.) In the discussion that followed the photo selection process, participants held up the image as a metaphor that had sparked their memory and had prompted  them to share their story.

This process of using photographs as media for stimulating small group discussions originally developed at a French center for religious education in the 1970s, CREC AVEX. The method is called “Photolanguage.” The students learned about it in the course of their reading Eric H. F. Law’s The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Sprituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community (St. Louis MO: Chalice Press, 1993). The set of photos the students used in their discussions were the work of their professor, Eileen D. Crowley, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Liturgy and Worship Arts and Program Director of CTU’s Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) and five MAs in Specialized Ministry. The students also employed a small group discussion technique they learned from Law, Mutual Invitation, that empowered and freed group participants to contribute to the very lively conversations that resulted. In their final reports, all 14 students expressed delight at how well Photolanguage and Mutual Invitation worked to create a safe environment for deep sharing about intercultural communication.

The second part of the online course, WMP4000B Communication Skills for Ministry: Digital Media Arts, a 14-week course that can be taken for 1 or 2 credits, began officially Monday, February 9th, the start of the Spring 2015 semester.

Learning that informs ministry

Reading and research form the basis of any graduate school experience. But because CTU is a graduate school of theology that also prepares students for ministry, Associate Professor of Catholic Theological Ethics, Regina (Gina) Wolfe, challenged students in two of her spring semester classes to synthesize and shape the academic content they were absorbing into formats that could be used in ministerial contexts as tools for raising awareness.

The result? In one course, Women, Poverty, and Global Justice, the MA and DMin students — hailing from Argentina, Vietnam, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Rwanda, and the United States — produced a video in which students spoke to issues related to women’s agency and empowerment. To view the video, click here.

The students in a second course, Catholic Moral Tradition and Public Policy Debates, published a newsletter. The class drew on Kenneth R. Himes’ notion of ethical “coordinates” (Christianity and the Political Order: Conflict, Cooptation, and Cooperation, Orbis, 2013), which uses the principles of Catholic social thought as “coordinates” or criteria to guide citizens, consumers, and communities toward actions and strategies that are respectful of the dignity of the person, supportive of human rights, and attentive to the common good. Students used the ethical coordinates to address three complex contemporary realities – extractive industries and mining, safe and clean water, and HIV/AIDS. To download a PDF of the newsletter, click here.

New student journal, Theophilus, launches

Stephanie Cherpak, Matthew Dougherty, OPraem, and Bernadette Raspante each came to CTU with different backgrounds, goals, and ambitions, but over the past year their efforts have coalesced to found Theophilus: The Student Journal of the Catholic Theological Union. For all three young editors, the journal represents a desire to foster a spirit of dialogue and debate in the CTU community and beyond.

Theophilus is entirely student-produced; the journal is managed, edited, and reviewed by CTU students, and at present its contents are also taken only from CTU student submissions. The student-centric nature of this online publication is no coincidence. The editors’ primary intention in creating Theophilus was to inspire a stronger sense of academic community among CTU peers, a community that would be both aware of and engaged with the academic exploits of its members. To access the journal, click here.

In addition to the journal, Theophilus also maintains a blog, which further supports the journal’s mission as a platform for discussion. Through the Theophilus blog, students can share new ideas and insights on a weekly basis in a more casual, less competitive setting. In addition to scholarly works, the blog publishes poetry, photography, and reflections. To access the blog, click here.