For the past few weeks we’ve been exploring various projects and ideas that surfaced during the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. Today, we are exploring some language and framework that emerged during this time period about the ways in which Winebrenner Theological Seminary serves as a “platform with initiatives,” specifically:
InDepth: Reimaging theological education) – https://winebrenner.edu/indepth/ – this provides a forum to write about “behind the scenes” items at Winebrenner; when working at its best, its driven by a series theme with occasional guest authors; it’s sent to everyone in Winebrenner’s database and shared as a resource externally; it’s led to a few invitations to write articles as well as an invitation to consult with another seminary (we made a small amount of revenue from that invitation). The recipients also include financial supporters, faculty, staff, students, and other partners. This helps develop a consistent “public face” for Winebrenner and invites further discussion.
Graduate Theological Education (GTE) – https://gte-exchange.com/; Winebrenner is the creator and convening partner for this initiative. This particular website is a digital interface for the partners; the current listed courses are placeholders with a soft goal of having more in place by January 2024; this is a course sharing platform based upon two criteria – participating schools can provide the link to students in good standing and no money is exchanged between schools; we have one strong partner, 2-3 mid-level interest partners, and several more on the fringes; the creation of this site was grant-funded so there was no cost to Winebrenner at this point; we will continue to solidify the structure of this and work through the final details.
Pathways Collaborative (no current website) – Winebrenner is the creator and convening partner for this initiative, with the Institute for Christian Studies (ICS) serving as the anchor program. This is intended to be a collaborative partnership between non-degree ministry institutes and churches for the purpose of sharing Institute-level courses; we have three partners who have signed agreements and one church who is active but does not have a signed agreement. This is a place to expand within the 2023-2028 Strategic Plan– the idea behind this is that if we strengthen our process of identifying students who could benefit from Bachelor Equivalency we can have churches engage a large pool of students and we can invite them into our graduate framework. Finding more partners is a goal.
Co-Mission – this site and initiative has been shut down. During COVID-19 many stated the need and desire for a space for user generated content but very few, Winebrenner students included, followed through on the stated interest. This domain site may be able to be repurposed for another project. For example, we are currently exploring with multiple organizations who offer training and are interested in using our “platform” to reach a wider audience and increase their credibility. This approach requires an understanding of collaboration and unique financial models that may look different than a traditional approach. This was funded by a grant through ATS and was intended to explore something experimental or new – unfortunately, in this case, the experiment was not successful.
As I noted last week, some projects and efforts succeed while others fail. A commitment to iterative thinking and testing ideas is becoming a more familiar element of our culture. More details will continue to become available about the above initiatives. Stay tuned!
- Brent C. Sleasman, President