“Pathway” Partners

One of the ways in which Winebrenner Theological Seminary is talking about fulfilling our strategic plan is through the development of collaborative relationships with non-educational contexts, such as local churches and denominational bodies.  To provide a clear identifier for these collaborative relationships, we’ve begun referring to these settings as “Pathways” partners.

These settings are distinct from educational partners, such as accredited undergraduate institutions, in at least three ways:

First, the student pathway is very different in the way they are part of a community of learners. There is a big difference between what the students would do to get to Winebrenner. That is not to say that one is superior to the other, only that the journey would be quite different. The development of a student in a Pathway location is a mutual responsibility. The development of a student at a place like Ohio Christian University or The University of Findlay is the responsibility of that institution, until the student gets to us.

Second, the Collaborative partnership is different on an Institutional level. In the case of Ohio Christian University, the school would interface with us only to the extent necessary for mutual matriculation of a student. A Pathway partner will collaborate with us at a much more intricate level.

Third, the Winebrenner involvement with Pathway students would be integrated throughout their program. They would be our students throughout the process.  One scenario could see a student from Ohio Christian University taking a couple of classes there toward graduation; even though those courses would count toward degree completion here, we would not have control over the student. The level of collaboration would likely be Dean to Dean; at the most, Program Director to Program Director. It is doubtful that it would be faculty to faculty, except for general collaboration. In the end, they would teach their courses their way. In short, there is no contextualization on our part for OCU students.

One example from Winebrenner’s history is the cohort of students at the Marion Correctional Institute (MCI).  Some variables that we are considering if we launch another cohort include:

1.  Both Winebrenner and MCI would be responsible for student development. The students are part of our community of learners from beginning to end.

2.  Winebrenner is responsible for curriculum, though we would contextualize in consultation with them.

3.  We are intricately involved in Institutional collaboration.

Labels and language provide clarity and allow for consistency in conversation and implementation.  MCI fits within our emerging Pathway model.  Perhaps contexts like OCU could be called “preferred partners,” implying that we give their students preference. An optional term would be calling them “Advance” partners, borrowing the term from “advanced standing.”

Regardless of the language and labels, there are multiple expressions of education that is collaborativecontextual, and promotes a community of learners.

This post is adapted from an email exchange between Dr. Brent Sleasman, President, Dr. Bruce Coats, Academic Dean, and Amy Kinney, Coordinator of Enrollment Management.

Image by Martin Reisch, accessed via Adobe Spark / Unsplash