DMin Seminar in Advanced Practical Theological Research

Instructor: Katherine Turpin, Ph.D.

Best First Contact: kturpin@iliff.edu, or for urgent conversation, you can also text  or call me at 303-698-4401

Course Description:

This collaborative seminar provides an opportunity for students to explore the process of practical theological research for their DMin project and to work collaboratively to shape research that is impactful and compelling. Students will establish the theoretical framing of their project through deep engagement with a body of literature relevant to their topic, engage in rigorous contextual analysis of their research site/community, and begin the descriptive work necessary for their particular question, and in doing so refine their research question and appropriate research strategies necessary to their project.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, with faithful engagement of course activities and practices, students should be able to:

  1. Identify how theoretical framing functions in research with living religious communities and analyze the heuristic value and epistemological limitations of using such framing.
  2. Speak knowledgeably and critically about an analytical approach or theoretical concept central to their own project, identifying academic conversation partners on that concept that they find useful to their own work, understanding where those partners fit in the larger scope of developing that concept, and demonstrating awareness of their critics and detractors.
  3. Narrow the infinite potential elements of contextual description for their research context to the most central ideological, historical, political, and material factors contributing to current religious practice and theological understandings in that context. Identify quality resources to explore in writing their project that will allow for excellence in descriptive contextual analysis.
  4. Describe what makes for impactful and credible practical theological research that contributes to the capacity for prophetic leadership.
  5. Articulate their current understanding of their own commitments and styles of prophetic leadership in their ongoing positions of leadership and ministry.

Shared Course Readings

Much of the reading for this course will be established by the students in conversation with the instructor and be project specific to each student.  Each week there will also be shared reading for conversation that addresses the topics of the course and allows for common conversation about practical theological research. These broader readings will focus on:

  1. Readings on the role of theoretical framing in relation to qualitative and quantitative research in living human communities, the relationship of theory and practice in practical theology, and the perils of theoretical framing.
  2. Readings related to the task of description in practical theology, its power and limitations, how it relates to reflexivity and social location.
  3. Readings from a contemporary prophetic leader (Valerie Kaur) and an historic prophetic leader (Howard Thurman) with which we will be in conversation about our own commitments and practices as a leader.

Required Texts:

Bennett, Zoë, Elaine Graham, Stephen Pattison, and Heather Walton. Invitation to Research in Practical Theology. 1 edition. London ; New York: Routledge, 2018.

Kaur, Valarie.  See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love. One World Publishing, 2020.

Elllison, II, Gregory C., ed. Anchored in the Current: Discovering Howard Thurman as Educator, Activist, Guide, and Prophet. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2020.

 

Course Assignments-

  1. Participation in developing a rigorous and supportive learning community that allows for diverse colleagues to grow in their capacity for advanced practical theological research. Demonstrated through participation in discussion forums, Zoom calls, and peer review assignments. 15% of final grade
  2. Presentations in the 3-4 week with the initial identification of a key theoretical approach that will be central to their project. Students will share their initial research and understandings developed through independent reading and make a pitch for why this concept makes the most sense as a frame for their work. By receiving critical engagement from colleagues, they will both expand their repertoire of theories in the study of lived religion and develop a sense of the costs and limitations of this chosen framing for their project. 10% of final grade
  3. Students will write a midterm paper in which they demonstrate depth knowledge of a theoretical construct central to the framing of their project, with a critical analysis of how that theory/school of thought/analytical concept both contributes to and limits their understanding of the situation they are investigating. 25% of final grade
  4. Students will develop an annotated bibliography of 15 quality academic resources that help them describe the complexity of the contextual setting of their research. 25% of final grade
  5. Students will create a “research reflections” journal that compiles their weekly exercises related to their project, their practice/grounding as a prophetic leader, and the connections between the two. The journal will be submitted at midterm and the end of the term for instructor feedback. 25% of final grade
DateDayDetails
Jan 05, 2021TueGetting Reacquainteddue by 06:59AM
Jan 05, 2021TueFiguring out the Zoom/Synchronous Sessionsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 05, 2021TueIntroduction and Orientation to the Classdue by 06:59AM
Jan 07, 2021ThuWhat is practical theology again? and Who are we are practical theological researchers?due by 06:59AM
Jan 09, 2021SatOne last time on the Zooms (and perhaps other questions you have that haven't been able to ask!)due by 06:59AM
Jan 09, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Reflections 1due by 06:59AM
Jan 12, 2021TueWhy does theoretical framing matter?due by 06:59AM
Jan 14, 2021ThuIdentifying Key Theoretical Assumptions, Concepts, or Frameworks in Your Projectdue by 06:59AM
Jan 14, 2021ThuFirst Zoom Meeting!due by 08:00PM
Jan 16, 2021SatProphetic Leadership Reflections 2due by 06:59AM
Jan 19, 2021TueKing Day Holiday--no assignmentdue by 06:59AM
Jan 21, 2021ThuIdentifying your "trusted sources" on your theory/framing conceptsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 23, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Reflections 3due by 06:59AM
Jan 26, 2021TueSituating Ourselves in Relation to Traditions/Theologiesdue by 06:59AM
Jan 27, 2021WedKatherine's Reflections on "Trusted Sources" and Looking Ahead to Concept Mappingdue by 06:59AM
Jan 28, 2021ThuSecond Zoom Meeting Links- Wed OR Thurs Sectiondue by 01:00AM
Jan 28, 2021ThuConcept map locating your theoretical partnersdue by 06:59AM
Jan 30, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Reflection Journalsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 30, 2021SatProphetic Research and Leadership Reflections 4due by 06:59AM
Feb 02, 2021TueMethodology, Process, and Ethics in Practical Theological Researchdue by 06:59AM
Feb 04, 2021ThuPresentations of Theoretical Conceptsdue by 06:59AM
Feb 06, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Reflections 5due by 06:59AM
Feb 09, 2021TueEngaging in Description of Contextdue by 06:59AM
Feb 11, 2021ThuThird Zoom Meeting Linksdue by 01:00AM
Feb 11, 2021ThuMidterm Paper: Exploration of a Theoretical Framedue by 06:59AM
Feb 13, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Reflections 6due by 06:59AM
Feb 16, 2021TuePractices and Communities of Practicedue by 06:59AM
Feb 18, 2021ThuContextual Research: Individual and Interpersonaldue by 06:59AM
Feb 18, 2021ThuResearch Skills: How to Use Primo, the Library Catalog, The Iliff Databases, and Reference Resourcesdue by 06:59AM
Feb 20, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Reflections 7due by 06:59AM
Feb 20, 2021SatWriting Skills: Zotero and Citing Your Sourcesdue by 06:59AM
Feb 23, 2021TueTroubling the Notion of "Practice" in Practical Theologydue by 06:59AM
Feb 25, 2021ThuFourth Zoom Meeting Reminder and Linksdue by 01:00AM
Feb 25, 2021ThuContextual Research: Community and Organizational Leveldue by 06:59AM
Feb 27, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Reflections 8due by 06:59AM
Mar 02, 2021TueMoving on as Researchers in Practical Theology?due by 06:59AM
Mar 04, 2021ThuContextual Research: Cultural, Ideological, National/Policy Leveldue by 06:59AM
Mar 09, 2021TueProphetic Leadership and Research Reflections 9due by 06:59AM
Mar 11, 2021ThuFinal Zoom Meeting Reminder and Linksdue by 01:00AM
Mar 11, 2021ThuAnnotated Bibiliography for Contextual Descriptiondue by 06:59AM
Mar 13, 2021SatProphets of a Future Not Our Owndue by 06:59AM
Mar 13, 2021SatProphetic Leadership and Research Journalsdue by 06:59AM