Starr King Baffled

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by kavade, Jul 17, 2016.

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  1. kavade

    kavade New Member

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    Could someone please help me understand about divinity schools? I was searching for a grad cert in religious studies, because the area I want to move to has openings for adjuncts in that field. I got an MA from Excelsior in LS and have 2 undergrad degrees, one in English and one in Religious Studies from the University of California. Truth is, I HATE the educational system as it now stands so can't stand the idea of doing more than a few more grad classes. But Starr King, which says it is "affiliated" with UC Berkeley, also has accreditation from something called ATS. I think that is Association of Theological Schools -
    in Canada and the US. And the grad cert at Starr King looks doable.

    In the back of my mind I seem to recall some bizarre incident at Starr King, but the memory escapes me. Anyone have any info?
    Thanks very much for any help you can give me.
     
  2. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Active Member

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    ATS is a USDOE recognized accrediting agency and, generally, considered the gold standard for theological school accreditation. Many schools maintain RA along with ATS. Many do not.

    Starr King is generally well regarded in the broad world of divinity schools with the caveat that no divinity school is universally "well regarded" due to theological and denominational differences.
     
  3. heirophant

    heirophant Member

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    Starr King is one of (I believe) two seminaries of the Unitarian Universalist church. That's the first thing you need to know. Its job is training Unitarian ministers and theologically speaking, Starr King is extremely liberal from a Christian perspective. Some would say that it isn't Christian at all. That's not a problem for me (I'm not a Christian) but it might be for some people. Not only is Starr king extremely extremely liberal theologically, it's far left politically and boasts of its 'sacred activism' and 'radical education'. I'm not particularly impressed with it, academically.

    https://www.sksm.edu/

    The second thing that you need to know is that Starr King is a member school of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. This is a consortium of several seminaries run by several different churches (generally theologically liberal) ranging from the Roman Catholics (Dominicans and Jesuits), through the Episcopalians, ELCA and Presbyterians, to the UU's way out there on the end. Each seminary typically offers an MDiv, is accredited by ATS but isn't RA, and specializes in training prospective clergy for its sponsoring church. The GTU itself offers the academic degrees (MA and PhD) in more scholarly areas and is separately accredited (by WASC). If you want to teach religious studies in the academic sense, in my opinion the GTU might be a better choice than Starr King.

    | Graduate Theological Union

    Fields of Study | Graduate Theological Union

    The association with UC Berkeley means that GTU students and students of the GTU member schools can use the UC Berkeley libraries and cross-register in UC Berkeley classes. Berkeley students can do the same at GTU (which has an extraordinary joint theological library). I don't know if that arrangement extends to DL students.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2016
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

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  5. kavade

    kavade New Member

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    Thank you for the replies. Thanks very much. Yes, I know Religious Studies is an academic subject, but I can't find a distance cert in the subject. Actually, I was thinking I might just cobble together my own 18 units of RS grad work if Starr King didn't fit the bill, and it seems it doesn't since it isn't RA. I can check the MA box now with an Excelsior MALS, I have undergrad degrees in 2 fields from a good uni, so I'm just trying to stretch the areas I might be useful in to a community college. Kizmet, I'll check your link. Thank you again for the info people. It is much appreciated.
     
  6. heirophant

    heirophant Member

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    There are lots of British offerings in religious studies.

    One that I like is U. of Wales Trinity St. David (probably more familiar to Degreeinfo readers under its old name: U. of Wales, Lampeter). This school began many years ago as a C. of E. theological college but has gone ecumenical and has become a full-service university, with a very strong distance learning emphasis. I like it because it isn't totally Christo-centric, addresses non-Western religion and emphasizes religion and religiosity as a fundamentally human phenomenon found worldwide. (If I was in the market for a distance learning religious studies program, this is one school that I'd give serious consideration to.)

    School of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies - University of Wales Trinity Saint David

    It offers a M.Res. (Master of Research) through its Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre that can apparently be done by distance learning.

    Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre - University of Wales Trinity Saint David
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2016
  7. kavade

    kavade New Member

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    Thank you!
     
  8. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Active Member

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    You can petition Excelsior to consider non-RA credits. I know some people have been successful with DEAC credits. I'd have a very hard time believing that they would accept DEAC but not ATS.

    But, of course, this cannot be guaranteed.

    If you are truly interested in the academic discipline of "Religious Studies" then a theology course of study is not going to be of interest. I like Levicoff's quick summary of the difference between Religious Studies and Theology as the former being what "people" believe and the latter being what "we" believe.

    I can earn a degree in RS and focus my study on Islamic Epistemology all without ever being Muslim. I can do that all while being a fundamentalist Christian. If I approach Islamic Epistemology through a theological program then the program is going to be taught from the standpoint that Islam is the true faith.

    Religious Studies and Theology are not just two different ways of saying the same thing. They are very much different disciplines with very different sets of assumptions in place.

    If theology is of interest then you should look at the school that has the closest match to your personal theology. Global University is a great and affordable option if you're pentecostal. But if you're a Roman Catholic, a Mormon or a Buddhist the program will probably not work for you.

    Different CCs have different approaches to religious faculty. I find that it matters somewhat how much public control there is over the CC itself. At my last CC there were no religious degrees on campus at all. The only courses they might have taught were the handful of philosophy courses. At my present CC there are a handful of philosophy courses but also a number of religious history courses and local clergy have been asked to teach some of those.

    I say this because having a degree from a religiously affiliated but largely liberal school is not the same thing as having a degree in RS from a secular school. If you have an MA in RS from Penn State it is going to be received differently than an MA in RS from Fordham even if the Jesuits sufficiently liberalized to the point where the two programs are academically comparable.

    This difference might not matter so much at the four year institutional level. Secular (including public) four year schools routinely hire people with religious degrees for the smattering of classes where that matters (Binghamton University, for example, has a decent little Jewish Studies program with a number of Rabbis currently or previously on faculty).

    But at the CC level things can be a little stickier, at least in my experience.
     

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