Leaders in theological education gather this month for the Biennial Meeting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). This year marks the association’s centennial, and the theme of the meeting, “Legacy and Innovation,” provides an apt framework for celebrating the past 100 years while leaning into a future that will be markedly different. We congratulate the member schools and our colleagues at ATS on this milestone.

How will this next century in theological education be defined? New educational models? New partnerships? Experimentation and innovation?

ATS member schools have been exploring all these possibilities during the last couple of years. Much of their work has been structured within the “ATS Educational Models and Practices Project,” which included 18 peer groups comprising 110 schools and 200 individuals. Each group has now prepared a report on its work, focusing on a particular topic like formation in online contexts, degree duration, global partnerships, students without bachelor’s degrees, or competency- based education. The peer groups’ reports are at bit.ly/ATS_edmodels.

How else are the leaders of theological schools looking ahead? Some, like Donald Fairbairn of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, are updating the concept of “residency” in theological education (read "Redefining residency in theological education"). 

Others are looking at even more fundamental questions. In "From content to learning loops," Robert Saler asks, “What would a seminary look like if we started one from scratch?”

Still others have already launched themselves into the future. In "Innovation hub," we examine three seminaries located in Denver, this year’s Biennial Meeting host city, all of which are embracing “Legacy and Innovation” on their own terms: By producing top-quality video courses, by embracing interactive learning activities in virtual classrooms, and by exploring the relationship between theology and artificial intelligence. These schools—Catholic, evangelical, and mainline Protestant—have embraced new innovations that uphold and build on their values.

30 years of In Trust magazine

Moving from milestone to innovation is also our goal at the In Trust Center for Theological Schools. This year the In Trust Center celebrates three decades of In Trust magazine—you can read more about our history at "In Trust magazine turns 30." For 30 years, we have circulated wise practices and on-the-ground stories about critical issues, opportunities, and challenges in the field of theological education. And we’re looking to the future with hope, filled with ideas that we’re gleaning from our members—ideas about connecting our members to one another and to the best possible resources that they can use to transform their schools into instruments of change for the church, and for the whole world.

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