Contextual Learning Opportunities
Boston University School of Theology (STH) 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
The Contextual Education Office at STH prepares students for practical leadership through internship placements that not only benefit our community and congregational partners, but also satisfy requirements for degree programs and/or denominational ordination.
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’s Spring/Summer 2022 travel seminars include:
- Camino de Santiago, Spain, Dr. Rady Roldán-Figueroa (Spring Break, 2022)
- Peru: Pre-Columbian Andean Religions and Cultures, Dean Cristian De La Rosa (May 2022)
- Listening to Spirit in Nature: Acadia National Park, Dr. Wanda Stahl (May 2022)
- Manchester, England: The Wesleyan Tradition in 21st-Century Context, Dr. Chris Evans (Summer 2022)
Peru: Pre-Columbian Andean Religions and Cultures
Dates: May 23-31, 2022
The Travel seminar to Peru will explore historical and religious sites in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and will conclude with a visit to Machu Pichu. It will engage with communities in Cusco and will explore the rich history and understandings of the Pre-Columbian Andean cultures, religions and art of the region.
Cost: $3,000. This will include Air travel to and from Peru, housing, meals, ground transportation in Peru, site visits, seminars/conferences, and travel insurance.
Listening to Spirit in Nature: Acadia National Park
Dates: May 23-29, 2022
This course will explore the context of nature as a foundation for and partner in spiritual leadership and practice. Readings from a variety of traditions, including Celtic Christianity and Native American spirituality, will provide grounding for exploring theological and ethical perspectives. Emphasis will be placed on experiencing and developing individual and communal practices that connect persons to the Holy in and through nature. Students will be guided in experiencing nature as sacred subject rather than object; as teacher, spiritual guide, companion, and neighbor.
Please note: Students should expect some course activities to require walking moderate distances on potentially uneven ground. We will do our best to accommodate participants’ differing physical abilities, but in some instances this could limit the full benefit of course experiences.
Camino De Santiago, Spain
Dates: March 4-13, 2022
Description: The aim of this travel seminar is to introduce students to the history of pilgrimage as a spiritual practice through an intensive in situ exploration of a segment of the Camino de Santiago. The seminar will include visits to sites and locations of religious significance in Santiago de Compostela, including the Cathedral and its shrine to St. James and local museums dedicated to the history of Jacobean pilgrimages. Participants will walk the last 10km of the famous Camino Frances, the French Way, from Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostela. Special lectures and group discussions will locate the history of Jacobean pilgrimages within the larger history of pilgrimage as spiritual practice.Cost: $3,500. This will include Air travel to and from Spain, lodging, meals, ground transportation, site visits, speakers, and travel insurance.
The Wesleyan Tradition in 21st-Century Context: Travel Seminar to Manchester, England
Instructor: Christopher Evans (assisted by faculty and staff at Nazarene Theological College, Didsbury, England)
Dates: July 24 –August 6, 2022
This seminar will enable students to experience how British churches connected with the Wesleyan heritage are engaging the unique challenges of ministry in the 21st century. Traveling to the country of Methodism’s origins, the seminar will enable students to explore how the legacies of John and Charles Wesley are being utilized by faith communities in the United Kingdom today. Our setting in Manchester, the second largest city in the UK, will provide unique opportunities for students to investigate how the Wesleyan heritage relates to contemporary ministerial contexts. Featuring classroom seminars, meetings with religious leaders, and site visits, the course will also include a visit to the John Rylands Library—one of the world’s great repositories of Methodist historical materials. Other planned visits include visiting Epworth, the birthplace of John and Charles Wesley, as well as possible daytrips to UK cities such as York and London.
Cost: Approximately $1,500 excluding airfare.
Student Travel Funds
The Office of Students and Community Life (OSCL) offers limited funding to support STH students attending academic conferences that will enhance the students’ professional development. Travel and conference funding for STH 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 Cristian De La Rosa. Funds may not be used to further subsidize travel seminars.
Boston University School of Theology seeks to support STH 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.