Truett Celebrates Board Approval of New Degree Programs

November 12, 2021
Truett Globe

On November 5, 2021, the Baylor University Board of Regents announced the approval of three new degree programs at George W. Truett Theological Seminary: the Master of Arts in Theology and Sports Studies, the Master of Arts in Contextual Witness and Innovation, and the Master of Arts in Theology, Ecology, and Food Justice.

“One of our goals as a seminary is to think not only about the needs of congregational leadership—although that remains a priority—but also to think about the ministries that come alongside the Church for the sake of the world,” said Angela Reed, PhD, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, and Director of Spiritual Formation. “At Truett Seminary, we want to be responsive to the ways in which God seems to be working in the hearts of people and calling them to serve alongside the Church in innovative ways. It is our responsibility to create academic programs and courses that can equip and train God’s people for these creative ministries.”

Master of Arts in Theology and Sports Studies

The Master of Arts (MA) in Theology and Sports Studies is a 39-hour degree developed by Truett’s Faith & Sports Institute. It is designed to provide a strong theological foundation, contextually-relevant formation, and cultural literacy for Christian leaders in sports. The MA in Theology and Sports Studies will be Truett’s first fully online degree, although it will still include select opportunities for in-person instruction.

“We’re thrilled that our Master of Arts in Theology and Sports Studies degree has been approved by Baylor’s Board of Regents,” said Paul Putz, PhD, Assistant Director of Sports Ministry and Program Director. “We believe this program is truly unique in the landscape of theological education. As part of the Faith & Sports Institute at Baylor’s Truett Seminary, it will provide a flexible option for Christian leaders who want an online graduate program with academic rigor, theological formation, and real-world impact specific to the people and culture of sports.”

Truett currently offers a Sports Ministry/Chaplaincy Certificate for Master of Divinity students and a Sports Ministry/Chaplaincy Concentration option for Master of Arts in Christian Ministry students. Both of these degree programs present robust opportunities for in-person formation but require relocation to Waco and take more time to complete. The MA in Theology and Sports Studies will serve students who are unable to make the move to Waco and may be already fully engaged in sports ministry, coaching, athletic administration, or other careers. Through this online program, distance students will be able to develop new skills and competencies while strengthening their Christian perspective. All three of Truett’s sports ministry related degrees enjoy the distinct benefits of being housed at a Christian research university with a major college athletics program.

“Students in the program can expect to receive the resources and support of a Christian research university, as well as the expertise of Truett Seminary’s outstanding faculty and staff,” Putz added. “We can’t wait to get started!”

Master of Arts in Contextual Witness and Innovation

The 38-hour Master of Arts in Contextual Witness and Innovation is designed for students seeking to create social and economic change by way of innovative practices while at the same time bearing witness to Jesus Christ and the gospel. Intended to be completed within a single year, this degree embraces a residential cohort model of education, which will allow students to go through the program together.

“The Master of Arts in Contextual Witness and Innovation affirms the calling of Christian innovators and entrepreneurs and their role in addressing societal ills and the barriers to human flourishing. This degree guides students in the creation of solutions and as pioneers for new initiatives from a distinctly Christian perspective,” said Michael W. Stroope, PhD, Professor, Holder of the M.C. Shook Chair of Missions, and Program Director. “This new degree expands the notion of calling to include all kinds of giftings and vocations, and it affirms that genuine and impactful witness to Christ takes place through our engagement with social problems here and around the world.”

Christian witness through social innovation is the growing edge of domestic and international ministry and mission, especially within contexts that are post-Christian. Advocacy, activism, and new ventures through non- and for-profit entities are all endeavors that might be embraced by students with particular gifts and callings outside of traditional congregational roles. Through the MA in Contextual Witness and Innovation, these students will receive training within a seminary community as well as the opportunity to participate in an “incubator” internship experience where social innovation and Christian witness are already occurring.

“I am thrilled that Baylor University and Truett Seminary have created a unique pathway for God-called innovators to be trained and formed in order that they might better integrate their witness to Christ with a desire to create solutions for societal problems, and I am excited to see who God will leads to join our first cohort of innovators,” Stroope said.

Master of Arts in Theology, Ecology, and Food Justice

Students seeking training to engage faithfully in creation care ministries, food justice work, environmental justice work, policy advocacy, and agricultural production will find a home in the 45-hour Master of Arts in Theology, Ecology, and Food Justice degree. The development of this degree reflects the growing awareness within theological education of the significance of humankind’s relationship with creation and the impact of the degradation of creation, particularly upon the most vulnerable of communities.

“The new MA in Theology, Ecology, and Food Justice will provide an interdisciplinary approach to educating future leaders as they seek to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Jenny Howell, PhD, Director of the Seminary’s Theology, Ecology, and Food Justice Program. “We are excited to offer a degree that brings together a strong theological foundation with practical expertise at a university well-equipped to provide both.”

The MA in Theology, Ecology, and Food Justice seeks to prepare students to be conversant in the areas of ecology, sustainability, and food justice as understood through a biblically and theologically informed hermeneutic. The program also enjoys two noteworthy partnerships, one with the World Hunger Relief Farm (“the Farm”) and another with the Baylor Collaborative for Hunger and Poverty (BCHP). The Farm, a Christian organization committed to the alleviation of food insecurity and malnutrition through sustainable agriculture and community development, already hosts courses within Truett’s Theology, Ecology, and Food Justice program. BCHP plays a preeminent role in the United States for addressing food insecurity and systemic poverty, and collaboration with the initiative will expose students firsthand to the practical work of addressing issues of food justice.

“I cannot wait to welcome our first cohort of MA students to Truett,” Howell said. “Along with high quality coursework, we are building out a phenomenal internship program that will position our students to be well-prepared to live into their vocational calling.”

“Baylor’s Truett Seminary is of, by, and for the Church,” noted Todd D. Still, PhD, DeLancey Dean and Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures. “One way that we can be true to our identity and to our mission is to educate and equip those who are and will serve alongside the Church. These innovative, relevant courses of study will allow our Seminary to realize more fully our vision of preparing faithful, thoughtful Christ-followers for a twenty-first century Church and world. The advantages of being a seminary embedded into a major research university are many; these programs reflect as much. May they be and do much good for many.”

Truett Seminary’s three new MA degrees have now been approved by the Baylor Board of Regents and are pending approval from the Association of Theological Schools. Details regarding admissions and enrollment procedures will be released as soon as possible. All three of these new MA degrees will enjoy the Seminary’s recently approved tuition reduction.

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