American Baptist Seminary of the West

There are great classes offered every semester at the GTU. One of the best by far is Constructive Theology, offered by Dr. Jennifer Davidson from ABSW. The American Baptist Seminary of the West is located near Cal, across the street from People’s Park—it’s the big red-brick complex that looks like Hogwarts’ downtown campus.


Constructive Theology stands out in my mind as especially valuable for several reasons.


First, the course is, in essence, the application of theology in real world contexts—another name for this course might be Useful Theology, or Theology in Use. It is ideal for a wide variety of students, including doctoral students and Mdiv-ers across the denominational spectrum. It’s a chance for people who are involved in theoretical theologies to get practical, and people who are practical to become practiced.


Second, the classroom sessions are an outstanding blend of facilitated activities—short lectures, student and social media presentations, class and group discussion, practice and reflection exercisesthat produces a truly dynamic learning experience. Dr. Davidson is tuned in to the individual and corporate student experience, so each class is unique, memorable, and productive.


Dr. Jennifer Davidson

Third: hands down the best, clearest, most superlative syllabus I’ve ever seen—seriously. With Dr. Davidson’s permission I borrowed her syllabus as a template for my own course planning. It lays out exactly what is due when; what is accessible and downloadable online; what you can expect to learn and read and do. Plus, it turns out that what the syllabus says actually happens.


There are lots of other reasons to consider this course above other courses—for example, parents or other people with working hours may appreciate its evening time slot. This course provides an excellent research opportunity for students with an orientation towards social justice, as also the parallel issues of cultural and institutional marginalization of all types.


ST-4150: Constructive Theology is currently being offered this Fall, on Thursday nights, from 7:10-9:40


The course description is included below:

In this capstone course, students will engage in a process of coming to understand themselves as life-long theological readers and writers in service to whatever form their life and ministry may take after seminary. Through encounters with classical and contemporary Christian theological themes, students will have ample opportunity to grapple with and articulate their own constructive theologies in conversation with others. Students will engage womanist, black liberation, Dalit, disability, Pentecostal, feminist, queer, minjung, Latin@, and other liberatory theologies in this course. Our theological conversations will be supported and enabled through regular written assignments including journaling, class discussion, and prayerful disciplines. This course is taught from a commitment to liberative pedagogy (see bell hooks and Paulo Friere), and is a blend of active learning, discussion, and interactive lecture where students’ voices and journeys are valued. This is a required course for ABSW students nearing the end of their degree program. Students from across the Graduate Theological Union are most welcome.


*Although I am a former student, no review of this class was in any way requested or promised, and my independent review is not officially endorsed by any GTU school. I just wanted other students to know about this very useful course and valuable opportunity for positive growth.

Written by Justin Staller

Justin studies Christian Spirituality at the GTU, where he received his M.A. in Biblical Languages after earning his B.A. in Religious Studies at Cal. Justin is also member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality.

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