Experience ESR

Uncommon Grounding

The Teaching and Learning Process

Earlham School of Religion personalizes the education process through a small-group approach in many courses, particularly upper-level courses. Students contribute to the process through classroom and electronic discussion, presentations, and group projects. Often this learning moves outside of the traditional classroom to appropriate locations, emphasizing context as an essential aspect of understanding. This includes local sites that are useful to the learning process, as well as travel seminars to locations such as Israel, Central America, Appalachia, and Washington D.C. Some courses are taught by a team of two or more persons, each bringing his or her experience and field of expertise to the discussion. Visiting professors or lecturers, use of the case-study method, and independent study projects provide additional variety and motivation.

Technology is expanding the resources available for learning at schools around the world. Teaching and learning at ESR embrace the best advances of this movement, seeking to integrate technological innovation into the curriculum in constructive ways. Many classes expect electronic databases to be used in research. Electronic mailing lists and discussion threads offer ways of extending constructive discourse beyond the classroom. Video, audio, and computer technologies enhance modes of teaching within the classroom. In ESR's distributed learning program, ESR Access, on-line courses and courses at regional locations are available, allowing ESR's teaching-learning process to extend well beyond the confines of Richmond, Indiana.

Student initiative is an important facet of ESR's approach to education. Within the larger curricular structure, students have a degree of flexibility in constructing their programs of study. This is reflected in course assignments, choice of electives, and various available emphases in the M.Div./M.Min. program, independent study options, the character of Field Education settings, and in the thesis of M.A. students.

Finally, ESR fosters a climate of acceptance, openness, and productive interpersonal exchange. Our students come from diverse cultural and theological backgrounds, but through receptive listening and honest speaking these contrasts move beyond conflict into opportunities for learning.

Quaker Distinctives

Theological education at the Earlham School of Religion stems from its Quaker roots and heritage. This perspective undergirds and guides the school's rigorous academic offerings, spiritual formation, and professional training.

Spiritual Preparation is a distinct mark and concern of Friends, and, therefore, of a Quaker seminary. Friends have traditionally been known for their dependence on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and understand that response to the Spirit leads to authentic ministry. ESR builds its educational program upon this process. ESR's educational programs further cultivate spirituality through coursework on prayer, spiritual discipline, and examination of one's own spiritual resources. This contributes to programs in which ESR graduates are equipped for a gift-based ministry, prepared to translate the Spirit's leading into practice.

Quaker Studies at ESR provide multiple opportunities to study the movements and personalities that have shaped Quaker identity, faith, and culture. Hermeneutic reflection allows students to consider how a wealth of wisdom from the past can be brought to bear upon the present moment. Degree-seeking or Occasional students are welcomed for in-depth study, research, and writing in the history and thought of Quakerism. However, the influence of Quakerism extends beyond courses dedicated to Quaker subject matter, as Quaker values contribute greatly to the shape of the ESR educational experience. For instance, faculty and students are on a first-name basis, and the effects of testimonies on simplicity, integrity, and equality are widely evident at ESR.

Peace and Justice Studies at ESR give a voice to Friends' concerns for social issues in an effort to put faith into practice. Past witnesses to peace, simplicity, integrity, and equality provide a solid foundation for engaging challenging social issues of the day. At ESR, this Quaker distinctive unites theological studies with peace and justice concerns in an effort to discover how faith is to be lived out in a suffering world.