The purpose of the Boston University School of Theology is to pursue knowledge of God, to cultivate leaders for communities of faith, to enrich the academy, and to seek peace with justice in a diverse and interconnected world.
As the founding school of Boston University and the oldest United Methodist seminary in North America, we are a professional school within a cosmopolitan research university that is itself committed to “learning, virtue, and piety.” Rooted in the Wesleyan traditions and drawing from the wider Christian traditions of the world, we strive to equip women and men for ministries and vocations that foster personal and social transformation, that are oriented to the world’s diversities, and that expand the prophetic legacy of this historic School of Theology.
The School of Theology affirms Boston University’s efforts to increase and enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion on our campus. Inspired by the University’s Statement on Diversity, we seek to cultivate a culture that upholds the dignity of individual and communal differences in the human family, including: life experience, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, physical ability, learning differences, faith tradition, religious belief, theological diversity, social and political perspectives, class, immigration status, and language.
As the founding School of the University and a United Methodist seminary, we claim our responsibility to continue to assist this campus’ efforts to cultivate such an atmosphere by example. The School of Theology will therefore endeavor to nurture a community culture that values inclusive diversity in all its forms, while paying particular scholarly and social attention to the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, physical ability, learning differences, and global origin, reflecting the strengths of our faculty and staff. To fulfill this mission, the School of Theology will:
- Embrace standards of educational excellence that reflect and encourage vigorous searching and knowing in a rich learning community of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Encourage intercultural and decolonizing pedagogies among the faculty, in classes and within the overall curriculum
- Expect scholarship from people of various races, genders, sexualities, physical abilities, learning differences, theological perspectives, and global origins to be taught in classrooms and, to this end, encourage the STH library to reflect increasingly this diversity in its collections
- Make the increase in equity, diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency a prominent goal for the hiring, training, retention, and annual review practices of everyone employed by the institution
- Assume the best intent of one another within classroom learning environments, committee meetings, and professional interactions so that all may speak from unique points of view, experiences, personal values, and theological backgrounds. We also hold ourselves accountable for attending to the reality that one’s intentions are sometimes different from the impact one has on others.
- Acknowledge that this is a teaching and learning environment that encourages the participation of all individuals in speaking their minds and sharing their experiences for the purpose of expanding our understandings of one another and the world we live in
- Produce marketing materials that accurately reflect the diversity of the institution without tokenization
- Recruit and retain historically underrepresented students in ways that reflect a desire to serve and increase these populations both within our own institution and within the wider theological academy
- Reward and incentivize STH faculty for their participation in all University-wide committees and conversations as well as scholarship on equity, diversity, and inclusion
- Acknowledge, investigate, and participate in deconstructing oppressive expressions of power and privilege operating in the school’s culture and structure
- Utilize resources of the institution (financial, staffing, building, etc.) to strengthen and sustain the aforementioned objectives
- Annually evaluate the School of Theology’s success in reaching these goals, so that we may never become complacent in our movement toward equity, diversity, and inclusion.
We also acknowledge our rich institutional heritage and the efforts of earlier generations of students, staff, and faculty to make this a more equitable and diverse institution of higher learning. Consequently, we reaffirm the School of Theology Community Principles. We encourage members of this community to work tirelessly to abide by them.
1. Love. As a community with roots in a Christian tradition, we affirm that love for our neighbor, as an expression of God’s infinite love for humankind, is a compelling command to work towards the well-being of every single member of our community. An offense against one is therefore an offense against all.
2. Justice. As a community with an historic and sometimes prophetic commitment to justice, we must commit ourselves to working for justice and exposing injustice, not only for ourselves, but for every member of the community. That involves positively resisting the evils of violence, racism, hate, discrimination, and silencing.
3. Safety. We all must commit to making our community a safe learning environment where no student, staff, or faculty, regardless of age, sex, color, ethnicity, physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, or religious opinion, is harassed, bullied, or intimidated for any reason. We must commit to support policies that prohibit the mistreatment of any individual or group and provide appropriate avenues for redressing grievances.
4. Rights. Religious liberty and freedom of expression are inalienable rights for all guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution and by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The purpose of these statements is to safeguard individual rights from the actions of majorities and institutions. Every effort should be made in the School of Theology community to protect these rights for all students, staff, faculty, and administrators.
5. Responsibilities. As members of the School of Theology community, we have a solemn responsibility to respect these rights for others, including those with whom we deeply disagree. Rights are best guarded and responsibilities best exercised when each person and group guards for all others those rights they wish for themselves. As fallible beings we acknowledge our failures, past and present, and agree to hold ourselves accountable to one another and to the values we wish to live by.
6. Respect. Frank and open discussions are vital to the health of any educational institution. Every individual within the School of Theology community, whatever the issue under discussion, and wherever the discussion takes place, has a responsibility to treat others with civility and respect, both in speech and in action.
These principles, as approved by the Faculty of the Boston University School of Theology, are not intended to be exhaustive or exclusive, but they at least provide a common denominator of civil discourse, along with mutual love and respect, that will govern our words and behavior in the School community. These are the principles we believe should govern our collective work as a professional/graduate faculty within a large, private urban research university.