It is a new
era! Now neither time
nor distance need hinder you from taking courses at Hartford Seminary.
Students can take
Masters level courses for credit or audit just like the face-to-face
classes at the Seminary. Recent
changes in our accreditation policies mean that Hartford Seminary MA students can
now have up half their courses toward their degree requirements as distance education
The Seminary has recently begun an online religious studies certificate program - essentially allowing a student to take all 18 credits of that certificate degree - approximately 6 courses - online. Then, after this graduate certificate, it is often possible to transfer all those credits into a MA program here, the rest of which would have to be done in face-to-face coursework. Visit www.hartsem.edu/academic/gradcert.htm#relstudies for more information about the program.
We are committed to offering at least two online courses each
semester in diverse subject areas. We also offer a variety of other non credit
educational opportunities online.
membership in the Connecticut Distance
Learning Consortium and using Blackboard
software, students will have a host of resources, in addition to the
Seminary faculty, to draw from to make their distance learning
experiences smooth and painless as well as educational.
Visit our “Frequently
Asked Questions” section to learn more about distance
learning at Hartford Seminary.
If you have
further questions, or to enroll in an online course, contact the
instructor or email Scott Thumma, Distance Education Director
David Barrett, Educational Outreach Director at
or Karen Rollins, Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registered students will receive an email a few days prior to the start of classes with instructions on how to access the course web site and log in information.
If you have registered for an online course, please note that you will be contacted a few days before the course begins and then be given their information such as password, course site, instructions, etc. Prior to this, check the specific course's page on the Seminary website for book lists and initial course instructions. This is the procedure for every online course, every semester. thanks!
Winter/Spring 2010 Credit Courses:
Introduction to Islamic Law* (ET-640) ONLINE
Beginning the week of Jan. 25 View a syllabus
This course will provide a critical overview of the history and practice of Islamic law. We begin by examining the origins of Islamic law, the development of the classical schools of jurisprudence and the nature of pre-modern legal institutions, especially the courts and madrasa education. In following classes, we will explore the substance of classical Islamic law, especially in the areas of family, finance and international relations. Next, we will discuss the impact of colonialism and modernity on Islamic legal discourses and institutions and finish with a discussion of the way in which Islamic law is observed in contemporary America. Ingrid Mattson, Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim Relations
Women, Religion and the Future of USA Churches* (RS-661) ONLINE
beginning the week of Jan. 25 View Syllabus
Setting the context for on-line discussion of women in the future of USA congregations and denominations, the course will begin with a brief overview of women in world religions. Attention will be focused on the history of women’s participation and leadership in American Christian churches over the last two centuries, to stimulate a discussion of what themes and trends might be predicted for the 21st century. The differences among and between women and men in the membership and leadership of Catholic, mainline liberal Protestant, and evangelical conservative Protestant denominations will be explored to better understand the present reality and possible future of churches in the USA. At the same time, students are welcomed to make comparisons in their on-line writing and papers between women’s experiences in USA churches and those of women in other religions in the USA or in other countries. Adair Lummis, Faculty Associate in Research
Past Online Courses and Events Offered
Fall 2009 Credit Courses:
The Life of the Prophet Muhammad* (HI-536) ONLINE
Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15
The Prophet Muhammad is believed by Muslims to be the final prophet of God and the model for their lives as individuals and communities. Through translated selections of original historical sources, the course will survey interpretations of the personality and achievement of the Prophet made by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. Muslim emulation of the Prophet will be examined with reference to the Hadith literature and devotional prayers. Shadee M. Elmasry, Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies
Biblical Models of Leadership for Ministry Today: Jesus and Paul* (SC-610) NEW, ONLINE, beginning Sept. 8 View Syllabus
This course mines the gospel stories and the letters of Paul to explore issues of leadership theory and practice in earliest Christianity with a view toward understanding the role of religious leadership in the exercise of ministry today. Jesus and Paul, as the major figures of the early years of the Christian movement, pronounced words, proclaimed teachings and took actions that formed communities of faith. Implicitly and explicitly they exemplified the type of leadership that they considered necessary for ministry in their day. We will pay particular attention to the picture of leadership presented in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and leaders and practices which Paul discusses in various ways in his letters. What such historical, literary and theological study yields in terms of leadership and ministry today will occupy a major portion of this course. Efrain Agosto, Professor of New Testament
Winter/Spring 2009 Credit Courses:
DI-501 Understanding Islam: Rumor and Reality
This course is an introduction to the Islamic faith, intended for those from other traditions. It is designed to meet the growing need for basic information about Islam. It will cover Islamic beliefs and practices, issues faced by Muslims living in the West, the role of women in Islam, and current efforts at Muslim-Christian dialogue. (Winter/Spring 2009) (Formerly HI-515)
RS-690 Pagans, Witches and/or Christians*
The course centers on a sociological study of contemporary paganism, witchcraft and other earth-based faiths and practices, examining how these intertwine with one another and with Christian churches in their beliefs and rituals. Can modern-day, Druid religion, Goddess Worship, Paganism, Shamanism, and Wicca be considered real religions or are these more fluid movements swirling through related religious networks? To what extent do adherents of one of these earth-based sects who worship in groups or covens have distinctive beliefs and rituals that differentiate them from one another and most Christian congregations? Neo-Pagan focused congregations and smaller groups are incorporated relatively smoothly within the theologically liberal, pluralistic Unitarian Universalists. Goddess spirituality has also seeped into the historic Christian denominations, albeit informally and with greater resistance from churches. What portends in the next decades for pagan theology and practices? (Winter/Spring 2009)
Fall 2008 Credit Courses:
AM-653 Mental Health: An Islamic Perspective
Hamid - ONLINE
This course will familiarize students with the basic concepts of mental illness to facilitate their communication with multidisciplinary teams including both health and mental health professionals, and help them to gain an awareness of the cultural factors particular to the Muslim community. Students will obtain skills including when to make referrals and how to approaching individuals in a mental health treatment context. (Fall 2008)
TH-672 Theology of the Wesleys and its Wider Religious Impact*
Clark ONLINE View Syllabus
John and Charles Wesley were theologians and religious leaders who expressed their convictions by creating a vibrant popular movement – Wesleyan Methodism. Methodism has grown into a worldwide communion that now claims more than 75 million members in more than 130 countries. There is also a host of religious movements influenced by “Wesleyanism,” including Pentecostalism, which is now larger and more diverse than Methodism. This course will examine some of the sermons of John Wesley and the theologically rich hymns penned by Charles Wesley, in order to understand the theological significance and enduring appeal of their work. We will also sample current expressions of Wesleyan theology and ministry found in a variety of religious movements, attempting to assess their relationship to the theology of the Wesley brothers. (Fall 2008)
Spring 2008 Credit Courses:
Women, Religion and the Future of USA Churches* (RS-661)
Setting the context for on-line discussion of women in the future of USA congregations and denominations, the course will begin with a brief overview of women in world religions. Attention will be focused on the history of women's participation and leadership in American Christian Churches over the last two centuries, to stimulate a discussion of what themes and trends might be predicted for the 21st century. The differences among and between women and men in the membership and leadership of Catholic, mainline liberal Protestant, and evangelical conservative Protestant denominations will be explored to better understand the present reality and possible future of churches in the USA. At the same time, students are welcomed to make comparisons in their on-line writing and papers between women's experiences in USA churches and those of women in other religions in the USA or in other countries. Adair Lummis, Faculty Associate in Research
Introduction to Islamic Law* (ET-640)
This course will provide a critical overview of the history and practice of Islamic Law. We begin by examining the origins of Islamic Law, the development of the classical schools of jurisprudence and the nature of pre-modern legal institutions, especially the courts and madrasa education. In following classes, we will explore the substance of classical Islamic law, especially in the areas of family, finance and international relations. Next, we will discuss the impact of colonialism and modernity on Islamic legal discourses and institutions and finish with a discussion of the way in which Islamic law is observed in contemporary America. Ingrid Mattson, Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations
Fall 2007 Credit Courses:
Varieties of Gay and Lesbian Religious Life in the United States* (RS-638) view the syllabus
It has taken decades for the most liberal of religious groups to open their arms and welcome gay and lesbian believers as full participants in their congregations or as their pastors. Much of the rest of the religious world remains far from the adoption of an open and affirming position toward homosexuality. Controversy over this issue divides many denominational groups. Yet within this context many lesbian and gay persons of faith have created thriving independent and innovative counter-institutional forms of religious life as alternatives to the forms that excluded them. This online course will examine the history of the tension between homosexuality and religious organizations and explore the multifaceted methods adopted by gays and lesbians to meet their spiritual needs in modern American society. Scott Thumma, Professor of Sociology of Religion
The Attributes of God and the Purpose of Creation: Readings in Islamic Theology* (TH-646) view book list order form
In this class we will examine the essential questions of theology through the eyes of Muslim scholars over the centuries. How does one understand the attributes of God without falling into anthropomorphism? What is the role of reason in interpreting revelation? Are humans truly free to choose their own destiny? In what way can we understand the Qur'an to be "God's speech" without undermining God's transcendence? Is paradise only for Muslims? These are the questions we will explore in our readings of classical and pre-modern theologians. T.J. Winter, Adjunct Professor of Theology, University Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, England, and Director of Studies in Theology at Wolfson College He appears frequently on BBC Radio and writes for a number of publications including The Independent and Q-News International, Britain's premier Muslim Magazine. His research work focuses on Muslim-Christian relations, Islamic ethics and the study of the Orthodox Muslim response to extremism.
Using the Web and Technology to Advance Your Ministry
With Scott Thumma, Ph.D., and Odell Cooper
Saturday, October 20
1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Hartford Seminary
Monday-Friday, October 22-26, ONLINE
(You may register for each program separately if you wish.)
Join us for a special in-person and online workshop that will help you improve your church website and learn how to use technology to make what happens at church more effective.
The Saturday session will be hands-on, and include practical activities. Participants will walk away with valuable tools and actions for going back to their congregations and knowing how to begin establishing a Website or improve the one they currently have.
Then the Monday through Friday course will cover the topics of 1) an overview of Internet use by churches 2) getting your members into a database and using it 3) web sites that do more than look good -announcements, sermon audio files, discussion boards, and ministry connections 4) reducing your committee time and getting more done using email list serves 5) electronic newsletters that reduce the cost of print newsletters and speed up communications (5) developing a members’ only section and (6) online classrooms for Sunday school, youth projects, and keeping up with the college students.
The course will introduce the topics, provide resources, offer suggestions and show examples of what other churches are doing to make their ministries stronger and more effective by using technological advances.
We suggest teams from churches enroll rather than a single person. Discounts are offered for teams.
Scott Thumma is Professor of Sociology of Religion at Hartford Seminary. He is a member of the Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Director of Web, Technology and Distance Education. Thumma is webmaster for the Religious Research Association and editor of “InSites into American Religion.”
Odell Montgomery Cooper is a Project Manager for a biotechnology company in Cheshire, CT and a partner in Digital Visions, LLC, a computer-based company. Through Digital Visions, Odell was instrumental in establishing a computer learning center for a Springfield Housing Development. She also designed and customized several databases including membership databases for denominational churches and a database which tracked tutors and their activities for Manchester Community College. Additionally, she teaches Microsoft Office courses at Gateway Community College's Adult Continuing Education Program. Cooper helps pastors and church leaders establish web ministries in local congregations. She is an Adjunct Professor at Hartford Seminary where she earned her Masters degree and completed the Black Ministries Program.
Spring 2007 Credit Course:
American Religious History (HI-571) * view the syllabus
In God we trust. If America is the most religious country in the world, how did we get that distinction? This course is designed to offer students a glimpse at the rich diversity of religious history of the United States. The readings, lectures and virtual field trips will highlight major movements and religious figures that shaped the distinct forms of faith in our society. We will explore the relationship between American culture and its religious life. The course will pay particular attention to the impact religion has had on our nation’s history and inversely how religious traditions have been shaped by their encounter with American culture. After looking at the religious patterns within U.S. history, the course will end by speculating on future forms of American religion in the 21st century. Randall Balmer, Adjunct Professor of History, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of American Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University, and author of “Thy Kingdom Come - An Evangelical’s Lament: How The Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America”
Understanding Catholicism (TH-615) * view the syllabus
Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination in the world. In this course, we examine the history, theology, ecclesiology, and ethics of the Roman Catholic Church. Taught by an Episcopalian, the course will stress the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to ecumenical and interfaith relations. At the end of the course, students will have a good grasp of the rationale behind the worldview of Roman Catholics. Ian Markham, Professor of Theology and Ethics
The Life of the Prophet Muhammad * (HI-536) view the syllabus
The Prophet Muhammad is believed by Muslims to be the final prophet of God and the model for their lives as individuals and communities. Through translated selections of original historical sources, the course will survey interpretations of the personality and achievement of the Prophet made by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. Muslim emulation of the Prophet will be examined with reference to the Hadith literature and devotional prayers. Dr. Gazi Erdem, attaché for religious affairs to the Turkish Consulate, New York City
Credit Courses in Spring 2007:
Five Years Later: New findings from the second Faith Communities Today Survey We expect this course to be offered during February. It will be jointly led by several researchers from 5 or more different religious groups involved in the research. See more about the study at http://FACT.hartsem.edu
Reading the New Testament Through the Eyes of the Oppressed
This course in New Testament hermeneutics - the art of interpretation - will focus on recent developments in African American, Latino and feminist readings of the Bible. In particular, we will explore how Black and Latin American liberation theology movements have read the New Testament as well as womanist and mujerista perspectives. Recent applications of post-modern and postcolonial theory to New Testament interpretation will also be explored, especially as they relate to issues of the poor and the marginalized. Fundamental to the course will be close readings of relevant texts in the New Testament, especially the Gospels and Paul, but also the Book of Revelation, around issues of poverty, status and power, both in the ancient world among the earliest Christians and in our own contexts today.
Religion and the Future of US Churches
the context for on-line discussion of women in the future of US
churches, the course will begin with a brief overview of women in
world religions, both in original texts and in practices.
Attention will next be focused on the history of women's
participation and leadership in American congregations over the last
two centuries, to stimulate a discussion of what themes and trends
might be predicted for the 21st and 22nd centuries. Among the trends
and themes examined will be the changing nature of women's role in
the family and society, the pull of competing traditions within the
Christian faith as well as from other faiths and New Age
spiritualities on women's (and their daughter') allegiance to
mainline churches. The differences among and between women and
men in the pews and pulpits of Catholic, mainline liberal protestant
and evangelical conservative protestant denominations will also be
explored to gain a better understanding of the present reality and
possible future of congregations in the USA.
Conducting this class will be Professor
Adair Lummis, a
sociologist of religion with the Hartford Institute for Religion Research,
who for over twenty-five
years has been engaged in studies on women, clergy and ethnic
groups in Christian and other faiths, as well as program evaluation
and policy research for national church agencies, seminaries, and
Market Jesus: Popular
Religion and American Individualism view the syllabus
Americans believe in a Christian God, read the Bible literally, and
experience divine intervention, but remain intentionally outside the
religious community as defined by congregations or other
organizations. Many of these individualists also avoid ties to government
and big business as well as to other mediating institutions such as
schools or fraternal groups. This
course will examine the mixture of folk beliefs and 20th century fundamentalism practiced by so many Americans today, paying
special attention to the religious and spiritual underpinnings of
hyper-individualism. We will consider the theological and ideological roots of:
distrust of leadership, including clergy; conspiracy theories about
government and big business; the end of the world and its effect on
current events; and supernatural intervention in everyday life.
Farnsley II is the author of Southern Baptist Politics; Rising Expectations: Urban Congregations,
Welfare Reform, and Civic Life; and Sacred
Circles, Public Squares: The
Multicentering of American Religion. He is also a
frequent contributor to Christian
Century magazine and currently holds a grant from The Louisville
Institute to study the religious and political beliefs of flea
Introduction to Islamic Law view the syllabus
This course is an introduction to the history and practice of Islamic law. During the first part of this course, the sources of Islamic law, the formation of Islamic jurisprudence, and the history of Islamic law in society will be examined. In the second part of the course, contemporary issues and developments in Islamic law will be explored.
of Gay and Lesbian Religious Life in the U.S.
view the syllabus
This online course examined the history of the tension
between homosexuality and religious organizations and explored the
multifaceted methods adopted by gays and lesbians to meet their
spiritual needs in modern American society.
Islamic History 1 view the syllabus
course explored the history of Islamic civilization from its
beginnings in seventh century Arabia until the establishment of the
Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century. Attention was given
to the structure of political institutions, the changing nature of the
caliphate, as well as social trends and important cultural
Non Credit Events:
A Beginner's Guide to the Qur'an
With Sohaib Sultan, Hartford Seminary Islamic Chaplaincy Student and author of The Koran for Dummies
Dignity at the End
Legal, Medical and Personal Perspectives
Led by Heidi
are complex and do not easily lend themselves to sound bites and
sensational headlines. This online program was intended to educate
all of us about the difficult choices that must be made by
individuals, their families, their clergy and counselors and
health-care providers when someone with an incurable illness
approaches the end of life. The five-day
series included sessions on: Ethical Guidelines, Legal Documents,
Medical Issues, and The Practical: At Ground Level. The final day will
respond to issues raised by participants.
discussion was Heidi Hadsell, President and Professor of Social
Ethics at Hartford Seminary. Also offering essays and sharing in the
discussion were: The Rev. Donald L. Hamer, Rector of Trinity
Episcopal Church, Hartford, and a former Probate Court Judge; Kathleen
Muller, Chaplain to Inpatients and Bereavement Coordinator, St. John
Hospice, Tulsa, OK; and Dr. Gerald Neuberg, Associate Clinical
Professor of Medicine and Member, Medical Ethics Committee, Columbia
University, New York.
Theology of Popular Culture
course explored various theological and religious meanings that
are carried in popular culture, and specifically in phenomena that are
not ordinarily thought of as religious.
of Gay and Lesbian Religious Life in the U.S.
view the syllabus
This course examined the history of the tension
between homosexuality and religious organizations and explore the
multifaceted methods adopted by gays and lesbians to meet their
spiritual needs in modern American society.
to Islamic Law view the syllabus
course was an introduction to the history and practice of Islamic law.
During the first part of this course, the sources of Islamic
law, the formation of Islamic jurisprudence, and the history of
Islamic law in society are examined.
In the second part of the course, contemporary issues and
developments in Islamic law are explored.
Congregation’s Website: A Tune-up
November 10 - 21, 2003 Read
about this event
majority of churches in America are small. This course is an
opportunity to explore the dynamic of small churches and the
mechanisms that can make them effective. Taught by the author
of the 70s classic on this subject.
course is designed for lay leaders who wish to better understand their
congregations. We will
look at congregational cultures, the material and human resources that
sustain congregational life, and the structures of power and
decision-making that mobilize and constrain people in congregations.
Nancy T. Ammerman
Classics of Christian Spirituality view
course explores the nature of spirituality and its relevance to
contemporary life and ministry by means of a critical examination of
classic Western spiritual literature, including forms of monasticism,
certain of the mystics, and later authors from both Protestant and
Roman Catholic circles.
Surfing: Encountering God on the Internet
two or three people are logged on together, God is there. This
three-week mini-course, co-sponsored by Hartford Seminary and
Beliefnet, will explore the diverse nature and forms of
religion as it exists on the Internet. Through readings, guided
tours of the religious landscape in cyberspace, guest chats and
lively, moderated discussions, participants will experience the many
diverse ways religions, religious practices and religious persons
inhabit the Web. We will explore the ways religions make use of
the Internet, as well as how persons of faith practice their beliefs
online. We will address both the facts and figures of who these
spiritual surfers are and also the theological and spiritual
implications of their quest and the medium which they inhabit.
Join us on a reflective journey through this spiritual
cyber-labyrinth. Scott Thumma will serve as the Internet tour guide and moderator of
this mini course. Thumma is Faculty Associate in Web and
Distance Education at Hartford Seminary and a sociologist of religion.
He is the administrator of the Seminary’s websites and director of
its distance education program. Scott has written and lectured
about religion on the Internet and will soon begin a research project
on how congregations use the web. Several well-known religion and the
web researchers, practitioners, and purveyors will be guests
throughout the course.
You can review the
entire course by going to Belief.net,
registering on their site, then go to the "Dialogue Groups"
section, then "Dialogue Archive" and then the dialogue
labeled "Online Learning."