To be at the Toronto School of Theology is to be at one of the best centres in the entire world for studying theology and religious studies.
That was the word a few days ago from QS World University Rankings, one of the five most respected surveys of global higher education. It’s the only one that ranks subject areas as well as institutions.
One of our priorities at the Toronto School of Theology is to develop closer connections with Indigenous communities and individuals. Currently, the Indigenous presence at TST is small.
Some modest progress
Our member TST colleges have made some progress in recent years. Indigenous adjunct faculty members have taught excellent courses. Indigenous guests have resourced multi-day conferences, lectures, and alumni events. Teachers and students have taken orientation trips to the Six Nations on the Grand River. At... Read More
I was an undergraduate in 1966 when Time published its famous cover emblazoned with the single question, "Is God Dead?" By then I was already on what people today might call a spiritual journey, wondering about the things that this issue of Time was raising. Does God exist? Who is God? How can we know? Why is it important to know?
My undergraduate journey
My spiritual journey didn’t take me into churches, or at least not much. I had grown up in a 1950s church that was networked into the cultural and social establishment, not just... Read More
What are the biggest changes in higher education in North America over the past twenty-five years? Almost every list would include the development of an intensive "culture of assessment".
TST’s quality assurance processes and accrediting standards require us to do assessment in two areas in particular: What did our students learn in each course? How effective are our programs?
For courses, assessment requires us to identify the learning outcomes that students will achieve, and the ways in which achievement will be measured. For programs, assessment requires us to define... Read More
The widely recognized QS survey of world universities ranks schools as a whole, but it also ranks them in forty-six subject areas. One of these subject areas is called “theology, divinity, and religious studies.”
But, wait! Aren’t theology and religious studies two different subject areas? They certainly are at the University of Toronto. But the universities that QS ranks highest in this area — Harvard, Oxford, Durham, Cambridge, Boston, Yale — join theology and religious studies in... Read More
Throughout the history of humanity, it seems, people’s sense of God has flowed into their works of arts, and their works of arts have led them to a sense of God.
-- Some of the oldest cave paintings, at places like Altamira and Chauvet, which our ancestors drew from 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, appear to express religious commitments connected to animism, shamanism, ancestor veneration, and ritual observance.
-- “Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him with the ten-stringed lyre,” says the Psalmist.
-- Ancient Greek theatre evolved from religious ritual drama,... Read More
What trends can we expect at the Toronto School of Theology in the next few years? We can take a stab at that question by looking at some recent patterns. True, we can’t really know whether recent trends will continue. Maybe some very unexpected things are in store for us. But over the past few years many trends actually have held pretty steady, so some continuing incremental changes is probably a good guess.
Much of what’s peculiar about the Toronto School of Theology has evolved from Canada’s colonial history. Let me give two examples: the University of Toronto leaves theology to TST, instead of running its own programs, for reasons rooted in colonial religious feuding; and it was a scandalous religious conversion in the colonial period that made it possible much later for Roman Catholics and Protestants to work side-by-side at Queen’s Park.
First, TST teaches theology because U of T doesn’t. U of T steered clear of theology from its very beginnings. In this respect it was an outlier... Read More
This past fall I had the immense privilege of co-leading a course for TST’s entering cohort of twenty-four PhD students. It was one of the most uplifting experiences of my professional career. I’d like to tell you why.
In theory, the students were there to learn from an ecumenical, multidisciplinary pair of TST professors. One was Gordon Rixon of Regis College, a Jesuit theologian. I was the other, a Protestant historian from... Read More