Clergy education is undergoing radical transformation in the United States due to changes in the profession, the religious communities served, and the larger landscape of higher education. Many reformers of theological education question whether the education of pastors, priests, and rabbis should be considered "professional" education at all. Some call for less competence training and more formation of theological habits of interpretation and reflection; others advocate for more practical and contextual training of skills and role-formation; and others emphasize the formation of personal character and religious piety. Yet most of these reformers agree that the formation of pastoral and professional identity, values, and vocation is central to the educational enterprise, and should be addressed across the curriculum.
I approach this topic from the framework of the Carnegie Foundation's studies of professional education, especially the study of the education of pastors, priests, and rabbis put forth in Educating Clergy, which I had the privilege of participating in as a researcher and co-author. I continue to support the view of graduate clergy education as "professional education" in the wider world of higher education because it has an historic association with law and medicine as professions that serve the common good, and because it addresses the "three apprenticeships" in the Carnegie studies of professional schools: those of forming the intellect, the skills, and the identity and norms of the profession. 3 One of the main differences, however, between theological schools and other professional schools lies in the former carrying on liberal arts traditions of interdisciplinary teaching and the goal of the formation of character in continuity with the nineteenth century American colleges from which most of them developed.
Golemon, Larry A.
"Professional Identity Formation Throughout the Curriculum: Lessons from Clergy Education,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 68:
3, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol68/iss3/7