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Common Curriculum

Responding to a culture in flux

2 courses

3 intersecting degree programs

3 labs

We live in an age of globalization and fragmentation, hyper-connectivity and deep disconnection, ever-advancing technology and declining empathy. What do transforming relationships look like in this complex time?

We are a community of deeply present practitioners, responding to an activated society. Our commitment to text.soul.culture is at the core of our curriculum and cultivates the skills required to carry out the sacred work of tending to a fragmented society.


Now more than ever, the world needs light-bringers, truth-tellers, and change-makers in the form of pastors, therapists, social leaders, and artists to join God in the restoration of their communities. Come learn with us!

Interdisciplinary study is what makes learning at The Seattle School unique. Our Common Curriculum is a shared, year-long formation experience for students in our Master of Divinity, MA in Theology & Culture, and MA in Counseling Psychology programs designed to develop thoughtful, adaptive leaders and practitioners. Our curriculum brings multiple disciplines and perspectives together for the sake of engaging the complex challenges in the world today and the nuanced matters of the heart with wisdom and care.


Through this common curriculum, you will:

  • Develop and articulate an integrated theological anthropology synthesizing biblical, cultural, psychological, and theological studies.
  • Examine and articulate diverse methodologies of interpretation and various models of knowing with reference to their limits and validity.
  • Critically reflect and respond to being embedded in one’s own context, cultures, and systems and our complicity in contemporary problems generated by social fragmentation.
  • Explore and articulate awareness of how one’s particular narratives impact others and the call to love God and all creation.

“At the crux of our Common Curriculum is the desire to help our learners to have a robust curiosity and growing understanding of God, neighbor, and the space between. The Common Curriculum is a year-long experience that is a continuous, interdisciplinary look at the places where psychology, theology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology intersect. We aim to make the implicit explicit through experiential learning for the sake of embodied practice.”

Dr. Doug Shirley, Assistant Professor of Counseling

Common Curriculum at The Seattle School

Gaining expertise in a discipline provides a lens, but any lens has affordances and constraints. Interdisciplinary learning invites you to develop multiple lenses, allowing you as the practitioner to take up multiple lenses to see and engage the world. Our Common Curriculum is a series of interdisciplinary courses integrating the study of theology, biblical studies, psychology, anthropology, and culture.

IDS 501 Intersections: Interdisciplinary Inquiry & Psychological Frameworks

Year 1 – Fall Term (3 credits)

This course explores interdisciplinary perspectives on complex problems that affect and reveal the human condition. It will also engage contexts that impact learning, including epistemological frameworks, personal worldviews and hermeneutics, and one’s internal world and development of the mind. Issues pertaining to diversities of one’s locatedness, experience, oppressive systems and institutionalized marginalization, and social fragmentation will all be engaged from an interdisciplinary framework of theology, psychology, and biblical studies.

Students will be able to identify their own epistemic assumptions and assess what to do when learning is disrupted; explore and analyze their assumptions, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and stereotypes; and form a working theory of the mind that addresses human development, relationality, and culture.

IDS 504 Critical Reading Lab

Year 1 – Fall term (1 credit)

Critical Reading Lab is a companion class to Interdisciplinary Inquiry & Psychological Frameworks. In this seminar-style course, students and a faculty facilitator will explore what it means to know and to learn, particularly as it relates to interdisciplinary and integrative work. The guiding questions will be: How do we know what we know. and how do we practice what we know?

Students will engage in respectful discourse and critical analysis with self and others through weekly discussion of required readings; identify the concepts, methods, and models required for learning multiple disciplines in an interdisciplinary setting; and begin to articulate their epistemic assumptions and approaches to learning multiple disciplines in an interdisciplinary setting.

CSL 551-552 Listening Lab

Year 1 – Fall & Winter terms (1 credit per term)

Listening Lab is an experiential, relational space designed to cultivate deep listening, emotional intelligence, capacity for self-reflection, and thoughtful vulnerability. Through sharing stories, students will learn about their impact on others and grow in their capacity to receive feedback. Through listening, students will learn how to hear with their whole being and share insights and constructive feedback. Listening Labs are an invitation to dive deep into personhood and to learn to see and navigate a group dynamic with authenticity and courage.

IDS 502 Intersections: Biblical Traditions & Theological Formations

Year 1 – Winter term (3 credits)

This course explores interdisciplinary perspectives on complex problems that affect biblical interpretive traditions and theological formations. Real-world implications of the doctrine of God, the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will be engaged from an interdisciplinary framework of theology, psychology, and biblical studies.

Students will be able to articulate an understanding of the Divine using both theological and biblical studies methodologies; investigate the implications of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ in the development of a theological anthropology; investigate and reflect on the role of cultures, traditions, and psychologies in the process of hermeneutics, identity formation, and meaning-making; and explore Triune relationality as a model for located and bodily faithful presence in all realms of relationship.

IDS 505 Contextual Learning Lab

Year 1 – Winter term (1 credit)

This course grounds interdisciplinary inquiry within the reality of students’ everyday lives. It equips students to listen as storied, located, and bodied creatures, providing skills for ways of loving God and neighbor within their place’s ecosystem unto the common good.

Students will listen to and learn from the context in which they are living; identify and appreciate the diverse practices and various cultures within their context in order to address its complex problems; participate in neighborhood action unto the common good with faithful presence, and synthesize and articulate their key learnings about listening and living unto the common good as bodied beings within a particular context.

IDS 503 Intersections: Textual Integrations

Year 1 – Spring term (1 credit)

In the context of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, theological anthropology synthesizes and integrates theories and concepts from the various disciplines at the school so that the student might dig deep into the question of what it means to be a human person. With this in mind, every student in IDS 503 will write a theological anthropology paper based on their accumulated research, reading, and annotated bibliographies compiled in IDS 501 & 502. This writing is an opportunity to integrate various ideas about what it means to be a human person (e.g. hurting, struggling, working, thriving, etc.) in the daily realities of life (e.g. relationships, family, work, culture, politics, etc.). With faculty advising and peer-to-peer collaboration, students will develop their own articulation of theological and psychological anthropology that will serve as an important contribution to the student’s vocation and ongoing integration of theology & psychology.

Students will apply key introductory concepts, using evidence from readings, from theology, psychology, and biblical studies as they relate to the question of human flourishing; synthesize theory, personal experience, and the contributions from lived cultures and traditions in order to demonstrate how such intersections impact one’s vocation in service to God and neighbor; and articulate and explain one’s emerging theological anthropology.

“I think the work of engaging relationships through the lens and the possibility of transformation helps us see that another way might be possible, that we might actually become more truly ourselves when we figure out what it means to encounter someone in close loving relationship”

Seth Tomas, MDiv Alumnus

“Our praxis curriculum is robust, substantial, embodied learning. It’s designed to develop a whole being listening posture and a priestly presence. A priest helps people to remember, to draw back what was important.”

Dr. Doug Shirley, Assistant Professor of Counseling

“My hope is that we have such a depth of our identity that we can handle that other people have a difference of opinion with us, and we can have real dialogue, and when those apocalyptic moments happen, we are grounded enough that we remain where we are. We can always grow. We can always change. But we know where we belong. ”

Dr. Chelle Stearns, Associate Professor of Theology

“We’re designing this such that there will be discourse and interdisciplinary inquiry simply because there will be multiple perspectives and subject matter experts up front. For example, students will hear from a theologian and a psychologist as we talk about a topic like trauma. ”

Dr. Doug Shirley, Assistant Professor of Counseling

Ready for the next step?

Connect with us! Request more information or apply today, and we’ll send you everything you need to know to begin your journey.