Friday, June 27, 2008

News Flash 1: ATLA Involvement in ATS Revisions

Dennis Norlin reported this morning that ATS announced at its recent biennial meeting that it is beginning a 4-year review process to revise the accreditation standards. ATS reported several trends that are reshaping theological education:
  • 2007 saw a decrease in the total number of M.Div. degrees awarded across the country.

  • The megachurch phenomenon is increasingly changing the path through which many people enter full time church ministry. Internal promotion of volunteer staff within megachurches is replacing traditional avenues of pursuing theological education before pursuing full time ministry.

  • Seminaries are evolving new models of organization and educational delivery that overturn traditional categories. Dennis cited the example of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary which offers simultaneous video streaming of courses to two other campuses while a class is being taught in a third location. Under current standards, only courses at the location with the professor present qualify to meet residency requirements.
To address these kinds of changes, ATS has formed a commission to review and revise the accreditation standards. It is good news for theological libraries that two of ATLA's members will be involved in different aspects of the review. Melody Mazuk from Palmer Theological Seminary and Pat Graham from the Pitts Theology Library at Emory University will represent the concerns of librarians and keep ATLA abreast of the revision process.