In the wake of the pandemic and the growing concern for the health and safety of our learning community, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology made announcements in April 2020 and June 2020 regarding Spring and Fall term online coursework for our graduate programs, including a decision to offer online coursework for the entire 2020-2021 academic year as we followed Washington State and King County COVID-19 guidelines.
As this academic year has progressed, the faculty and staff at The Seattle School have been in a season of preparation regarding how learning in graduate programs will be delivered post-pandemic. Over the next few months, we will be publishing updates regarding changes to the graduate programs as we move into the future. Two important updates at this stage are:
- Formation is one of our core values. Much of the relational and formative experience of our students is inherent in on-campus student life and academic study. We have also come to value our learning being accessible and have been energized by new students who reside outside of the Seattle area able to access education at The Seattle School for the first time. Among the work that we have been doing is reviewing options for our graduate programs that align with our commitments to both formation and accessibility.
- We will be filing a petition by April 1 with ATS (Association of Theological Schools), our national accrediting body, for approval to provide distance education post-pandemic and will hear word on their approval of our application by mid-to-late June. Approval of this petition will give us the opportunity to offer education to those who do not live within commuting distance in the Seattle area. We have received approval from NWCCU (Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities), our regional accreditors, to provide distance education post-pandemic. While we have not yet finalized how our programs will be offered to students learning at a distance, filing this petition to ATS is an important step in the process.
“At the core of our pedagogy, our practice, and our hope is a G-d that is with us. I believe we have been called to such a time as this, even as we face change and unknown. As we make space for gratitude in the midst of our grief, we focus in on our calling and resist losing our mission to the despair of our times. I believe there is still work for us to do—especially in this time of polarizing energies—loving G-d and neighbor through transforming relationships.” said President J. Derek McNeil in a communication to students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Departments from across the institution have worked diligently this year to make distance education and student life accessible for all. The Library staff is ensuring students are able to access resources necessary for coursework, and the IT department is available via an online help desk for students in need of technical support. Members of the Office of Students & Alumni continue providing a variety of opportunities for students and alumni to connect virtually, maintaining the school’s emphasis on building relationships and vocational formation.
“I have been grateful and inspired by the courage of our faculty and our students as we shifted to online learning out of necessity due to COVID-19. It has confirmed for us that we’re able to provide good, quality remote learning that aligns with our mission. Our values for relationships and for the integration of psychology and theology remain at the heart of this endeavor.” said Dr. Misty Anne Winzenried, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning.
The school continues to follow guidance from Washington State and King County, which has not yet provided a clear date to be able to re-open campus.