Contextual Learning Opportunities
Boston University School of Theology supports a remarkable variety of research, travel, and contextual study opportunities, including annual travel seminars and study abroad opportunities. The School also offers a limited number of travel and “springboard” fellowships that provide funding for students giving papers at conferences and other contextual action-reflection projects.
Contextual Education Office
What do we mean by contextual education?
A theological curriculum concentrating that engages people in rethinking what it means to be human in relation to God, other people and cultures, and the whole of creation. This kind of rethinking requires people to know with their whole beings: engaging all of the senses; challenging preconceptions, and getting our hands dirty (literally and figuratively). Such rethinking leads people to acknowledge that what we do not know is greater than what we do know but to recognize ceaseless opportunities for new knowledge, often emerging in unlikely places. The BU School of Theology curriculum is one aspect of this fundamental rethinking, focused particularly on classroom education and internships. Simultaneously the School is refiguring our community practices, co-curricular learning, and physical space, knowing that how we are together and where we together shape our theologies and our lives.
STH offers several travel seminars each year, mostly during January, spring break, or early summer. Eligible students receive up to $1,000 in funding to help defray the travel costs once during their studies at STH. These seminars have different emphases and learning outcomes depending on the course design, location, and theme of the travel seminar. This academic year (Fall 2020/Spring 2021) all travel seminars have been cancelled because of the pandemic. But check back soon, and we hope to be running more seminars in Spring 2022.
Examples of recent travel seminars include:
- Atlanta, Birmingham, and Montgomery: The Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Cuba: Religion, Economy, Culture, and Politics
- Ephesus/Turkey: Archeology and the New Testament
- Israel-Palestine: Dual Narratives
- Jakarta, Indonesia: Theology and Trauma
- Rural Maine: Serving in Non-Urban Settings
- Wittenberg, Germany: The Reformation and Culture
- South India: Sensing the Sacred
- Manchester, England: The Wesleyan Tradition in 21st-Century Context
Student Travel Funds
The Office of Students and Community Life (OSCL) offers limited funding to support students attending academic conferences that will enhance the students’ professional development. Travel and conference funding for PhD students is administered separately through the Association for PhD students. Your leadership representatives will be in contact with you about those funding possibilities, but you may also contact Dean Bryan Stone if you have further questions.
Students must complete the online Student Travel Funds Application to request funding prior to the trip; this application includes proof of registration or travel arrangements. Students presenting papers at professional conferences outside of the Boston metropolitan area may be eligible to receive additional funding if available. Students must demonstrate acceptance of a paper to a conference to be eligible for this funding. Depending on the conference location, conference presenters may be reimbursed up to $500 for their travel expenses. Conference attendees may be reimbursed up to $200 for their travel expenses. Your request for funding related to conferences is subject to approval by the Associate Dean for Students and Community Life, as long as funding remains available. Students receiving funding are required to prepare a one-page reflection on their conference experience within two weeks of the attended conference. Reflection papers can be emailed to Dean Teddy Hickman-Maynard. Funds may not be used to further subsidize travel seminars.
Boston University School of Theology seeks to support students with education and enrichment experiences that they may not have otherwise been able to conceive and realize. A small pool of “Springboard” Funding for the current Academic Year will be awarded to PhD, DMin, and full-time masters students in good academic standing who wish to engage themselves in special internships and projects, and doctoral level contextual research. This is a competitive awards program based on the availability of funds and the merit of the applications as judged by the faculty.
A note to PhD students: Funding for “Contextual Research for PhD students at the Prospectus or Dissertation Writing Stage” utilizes the application below. However, travel and conference funding for PhD students is administered separately through the Association for PhD Students (APS). Your leadership representatives will be in contact with you about those funding possibilities, but you may also contact Dean Bryan Stone if you have further questions. Students may receive Springboard funding for only one approved individual project during their course of study at STH.
How to Apply
Boston University Study Abroad Programs
Boston University has several graduate level Study Abroad programs, some of which may count toward STH degree programs. One such program is the International Conflict Resolution summer program in Geneva and London. Emily Kleidon (MTS ’17) recently participated in the study abroad program, and she answers questions about the experience in this video:
Customized Travel and Study Programs
With the help of the Office of Contextual Education and the Academic Dean’s office, some advanced students may be able to customize a study abroad semester with partnering higher education institutions. STH students have customized programs of study in Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, but other sites might also be possible.