Some of my favorite classes at DBTS are the seminars. They tend to be explorative, going deeper into a topic than any normal class would go. For instance, a few semesters ago we had a seminar on Advanced Greek. On one of the weeks we were able to seriously consider the concept of deponency (an intrusion on Greek from Latin) and the function of the middle voice in Greek. Obviously, one of our regular Greek courses would not spend two hours walking carefully through this topic, but the seminar gave us that opportunity.
For professors, one of the best parts of the seminars is that we are often learning along with the students. I have yet to have a seminar where I only engaged material I have previously engaged with. Such a learning atmosphere is enjoyable and engaging.
For students, I think there are distinct benefits to seminars as well. First, they allow students to test the academic waters. They do this by revealing whether the student is interested in deep-level research. Further, since we require students to lead discussions during the seminar meetings, the seminars provide an opportunity to discern whether one is able to fruitfully guide a class discussion. Second, the seminars are adaptable and are able to flex with the research interests of the students. Third, the seminars are discussion-based and thus different from most of the more traditional teaching expressed in lecture-based courses. Fourth, since the seminars differ in content from semester to semester, those having already finished a degree program will still benefit from taking these enriching classes. Finally, since the seminars have more than one professor, they provide an opportunity to engage multiple professors in a small group setting.
In conclusion, I would even say that seminars are fun! My goal in writing this post is to encourage you to consider joining us for a seminar. Even if you are not in Michigan, contact us as we may be able to live-feed you into the class. In fact, we have had some overseas missionaries join us in the past. Of course, you could start a ThM program, or you could simply audit. Either way, I think this is a great way for a pastor to stay engaged academically.
This semester Ben Edwards and I are team-teaching a seminar on Philosophy for Theologians. It will be an overview of the philosophical field, but with an intentional focus on how that field intersects with those engaged in ministry. We would love to have you join us. If you want to see the syllabus, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.