A qualitative case study methodology was used to determine what drives three Protestant stand-alone theological institutions attempting to become more diverse communities and what role their mission plays in seeking the change they desire. This study focused on Daryl G. Smith’s dimension of institutional vitality and viability with the hope that institutions can make changes that are sustainable beyond the life of individual programs and institutional leadership. The overarching research question that guided this study was: What are the benefits of promoting increased engagement with diversity through the curriculum, campus climate, and policies affecting students and staff in theological higher education? This study employed phone and in-person interviews with four administrative staff at The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), four second-year students, four faculty and four administrators from Peace Theological Seminary, Joy Theological Seminary and Unity Theological Seminary. The purpose of these interviews was to review the diversity and inclusion strategies implemented at these institutions.
Utilizing Smith’s conceptual framework, the results identified that all three institutions share two particular diversity drivers: a biblical mandate and their mission. All three were making some level of progress in matters of diversity and inclusion in certain areas of its institutional life. None of the participants believed their respective institutions were coordinating and monitoring efforts effectively. These institutions appreciate and celebrate diversity of individuals and groups, as long as, at the institutional level or societal level, things remain neutral. One of the three institutions was identified as having the most potential to sustain their diversity efforts over a long period of time as a result of their geographical location and institutional history.
This study also examined the intersection of diversity and social justice within the theological term of imago Dei (image of God) which emphasizes that all people are created in God’s image and are worthy of respect. The study also analyzed internal organizational structures, leadership behaviors and the initiatives that are bringing some form of transformation, particularly in regard to the centrality of diversity in the mission and planning processes. The final goal of the study was to identify how these institutions can make changes with social justice imperatives that are sustainable beyond the life of individual programs, institutional leadership, and reactive traditional patterns that emerge when the campus is disrupted by a diversity crisis. The study concluded with a review of multiple sustainable strategies that leadership can employ to overcome obstacles and create significant institutional achievement in the area of diversity and inclusive excellence.
|Commitee:||Conde-Frazier, Elizabeth, Eynon, Diane|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|Department:||Higher Education Management|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Higher Education Administration|
|Keywords:||Diversity, Inclusion, Mission statements, Social justice, Strategic plans|
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