13 members of the SEI staff team are looking forward eagerly to next month’s residential event at the Xaverian Missionaries’ Conforti Centre, Coatbridge. For the past three years, this gathering has had to be held virtually, so it will be a joy to be able to meet in person once again.
As ever, the event seeks to address two developmental strands: to offer participants theological food for thought and also some practical pedagogical training. We are delighted that our keynote speaker for the first strand is to be Dr Selina Stone, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Theological Education at Durham University with the Common Awards Team. Dr Stone’s research and publications sit within the fields of theological ethics and public religion, with a particular interest in the contributions both make to addressing social inequalities, themes she began exploring while working as a Community Organiser and Programme Director at the Centre for Theology and Community from 2013-2017.
Dr Stone will speak about ‘Theological education for life and liberation’, enquiring how theological educators can best operate amidst the world’s complexities: urgent concerns about the global environmental crisis, cries for justice from many social groups, and widespread economic struggles. She will discuss what it means to pursue holistic and communal liberation in the seminary, arguing that by decolonising theology and theological education the possibility emerges of ‘rediscovering a love for diversity in the human family, embracing our connection with the natural world, and teaching others to commit to life-giving ministry in the midst of a world marked by death.’
For the second strand we will be led once again by Dr Ken Farrimond, Virtual Learning Environment and Blended Learning Officer, National Ministry Team (NMT). Ken has been a loyal friend to SEI ever since its inception, guiding us attentively through all matters associated with Moodle, the toolbox which manages SEI’s online learning, and helping us to think creatively and more expansively about teaching approaches and assignment styles.
In a session entitled ‘Transformative learning’ Dr Farrimond will explore the ways in which such a pedagogical approach challenges students’ thinking by posing quandaries, encouraging them to think critically about practical situations in order to consider their beliefs and assumptions. He will also outline how using a flipped-classroom approach to teaching allows students to reflect on material prior to discussion in class in order to stimulate transformative learning. Later in the conference programme he will offer two highly practical slots: the first on ‘Creating and using videos for teaching’ and the second entitled ‘Ken’s pedagogical helpdesk’, a chance for us all to bring our questions, theoretical, technical and otherwise.
Doubtless we will have many!
Photos courtesy of Common Awards and Dr Farrimond