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. If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
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 2023 travel seminars include:
- Argentina: Liberation, Faith Communities, and Theological Challenges in Latin America, Dr. Alejandro Botta (Spring Break, March 3-12, 2023)
- Cuba: Religion, culture, politics and economics at a time of transition in Cuba, Dean Cristian De La Rosa (January 10-17, 2023)
- Rome & Florence: Theology and Culture, Dean Bryan Stone (Spring Break, March 3-12, 2023)
- Atlanta: Martin Luther King, Jr., Travel Seminar, Dr. Walter Fluker (Spring Break, March 3-12, 2023)
Argentina: Liberation, Faith Communities, and Theological Challenges in Latin America
Dates: Spring Break, March 3-12, 2023
Description: The travel seminar to Buenos Aires, Argentina provides a general survey of socio-political developments through films and popular culture, an overview of a variety of contextual
theological reflections, and a nine-day immersion experience. The course will offer its participants the opportunity to become familiar with major trends of ecumenical and liberationist theological reflection in Latin America, and specifically in Buenos Aires, in the context of the ongoing struggles for justice and equality in Argentina and the region. Focusing on some of the foundational Latin American theologians and Biblical scholars (J. S. Croatto, I. Ellacuría, G. Gutierrez, J. Miguez-Bonino, J. Sobrino, and E. Tamez) the course also pays close attention to lesser known but very influential evangelical theologians (C. R.
Padilla and S. Escobar). Hosted in Buenos Aires, one of the major cultural and educational centers of the region, and the main center of protestant liberation theology in Latin America, the travel seminar will provide through lectures and field trips a first-hand encounter with the realities, beliefs, struggles, and hopes of the communities of faith there.
Cuba: Religion, culture, politics and economics at a time of transition in Cuba
Dates: January 10-17, 2023
This travel seminar will explore the social and religious realities of Cuba with particular attention to religious movements. Participants will consider the contextual historical, political, and theological dynamics producing the particularities of Cuba’s socialist government, the Christian churches in Cuba, and the impact of US embargo for more than 60 Years!. It will involve visits to several key religious, historical, political, economic, and cultural sites as well as dialogue with leaders in theology, medicine, education and community organizations. Preparatory readings and facilitated reflection during travel will assist participants in coming to a better understanding of the complex realities of Cuba as a socialist nation representing resistance to the capitalist systems of the US.
Rome & Florence: Theology and Culture
Dates: Spring Break, March 3-12, 2023
Description: This course explores the complex relationship between theology and culture, with a focus on Christian theologies of culture. The cities of Rome and Florence provide the central case study for the course, given the many ways they exhibit the mutual shaping of theology, culture, and empire over the centuries. Ultimately, however, this course wants to build on historical understanding while helping students move toward a sophisticated understanding of theology and culture for the present.
Martin Luther King Travel Seminar
Dates: Spring Break, March 3-12, 2023
This travel seminar will explore the life, thought, and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a resource for the conceptualization and development of ethical leadership. The course will examine King’s perspective on the public role of religion against the background of selected “sites of memory” that marked his incredible path into the heart of America’s past and its relation to contemporary public conversations about justice and peace.
Cost: $2,500-$3,000 (details still being worked out)
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 full-time students in good academic standing who wish to engage themselves in special internships and projects. This is a competitive awards program based on the availability of funds and the merit of the applications as judged by the faculty. Students may receive Springboard funding for only one approved individual project during their course of study at STH.
How to Apply for Springboard Funding if you are a Master’s-level student
- Complete the online Springboard Application.
- Questions about springboard funding or the springboard application process may be directed to the Contextual Education Office.
How to Apply for Springboard Funding if you are an STM or PhD student:
- PhD students and STM students should apply for Springboard Funding through the Advanced Studies Committee, using the Springboard Application.
- When received, this form is re-routed through the Academic Dean’s Office to the Advanced Studies Committee.
- Questions about Springboard funding for STM or PhD students may be directed to the Advanced Studies Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
How to Apply for Springboard Funding if you are a DMin student:
- DMin students should apply for Springboard Funding through the Office of Hybrid Programs, using the Springboard Application.
- When received, this form is re-routed through the Academic Dean’s Office to the Office of Online and Hybrid Programs.
- Questions about Springboard Funding for DMin students may be directed to the Office of Online and Hybrid Programs (email@example.com).
Boston University Study Abroad Programs
Boston University has several graduate level Study Abroad programs, some of which may count toward STH degree programs. 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.