Academic Programs 

Doctor of Ministry Colleague Seminar I    (DM-710)
Fall 2006

The purpose of the two-year Colleague Seminar is to explore the reflective practice of ministry in an atmosphere of personal and professional sharing, eventually producing a set of analytical and theological papers as background for the Ministry Project. The goal of this seminar is to ground the practice of ministry in an understanding of its contextual and organizational realities and their theological significance. Students will be introduced to various field research tools and learn to reflect theologically on the insights gathered through their use. Required of first-year D.Min. students.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
D.Min. Schedule: Starts with retreat from Sunday, September 17 to Tuesday, September 19, followed by Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 9, October 30, November 13, December 11

James Nieman
Professor of Practical Theology

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9516


Course Syllabus


a. To learn the discipline of posing workable research questions and addressing them by arguing appropriate claims based on sound evidence;
b. To explore a handful of fieldwork methods in order more accurately to understand one’s own congregation and community;
c. To interpret the results gathered from fieldwork in a discerning manner that recognizes alternative points of view;
d. To engage a practical theological approach in order more fully to discern what has been learned about one’s own congregation and community; and
e. To establish a foundation for the remainder of the D.Min. program, including the diverse collegial relationships that enhance that program.


The course alternates between five class sessions (see “Schedule”) and the intervening periods for individual exploration by students in their own settings. The class sessions rely on group discussions, instructor presentations, and fieldwork exercises to introduce new tools and deepen the insights emerging through previous sessions. The intervening periods rely on assigned readings, fieldwork assignments, and written work to extend the class topics and prepare for ensuing sessions. A final paper provides an occasion to integrate work from the entire semester and show improvements upon earlier assignments that have been recommended by the instructor and students.


All reading assgnments are to be completed in advance of the class session for which they are assigned. All writing assignments are to be posted to the Blackboard course website by the Friday immediately before the class session for which they are assigned.

17-19 September — Retreat at Trinity Conference Center

Reading: articles by Farley, Tillich, and Berger (supplied)
Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.40-74
McRoberts, pp.1-60

Writing: Introductory statement

Method: Research questions

9 October — 10:00am to 4:00pm

Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.75-107
Swinton/Mowat, pp.3-98
McRoberts, pp.61-80

Writing: Reading synthesis A

Method: Participant observation

30 October — 10:00am to 4:00pm

Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.114-126
Swinton/Mowat, pp.101-155
McRoberts, pp.81-99

Writing: Reading synthesis B
Fieldwork report on participant observation

Method: Semi-structured interviews

13 November — 10:00am to 4:00pm

Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.127-150
Swinton/Mowat, pp.156-226
McRoberts, pp.100-121

Writing: Reading synthesis C
Fieldwork report on semi-structured interviews

Method: Artifacts and place

11 December — 10:00am to 4:00pm

Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.151-181
Swinton/Mowat, pp.227-260
McRoberts, pp.122-155

Writing: Reading synthesis D
Fieldwork report on artifacts and place

Method: Document analysis

Required reading

Three required texts will be the basis for four “Reading synthesis” assignments as well as class exercises throughout the semester.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003) ISBN 0226065685

Swinton, John and Harriet Mowat, Practical Theology and Qualitative Research (London: SCM Press, 2006) ISBN 0334029805

McRoberts, Omar M., Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003) ISBN 0226562174

In addition, three articles will be supplied by the instructor and must be read in advance of the initial retreat (see “Schedule”).

Farley, Edward, “Interpreting Situations: An Inquiry into the Nature of Practical Theology,” in Formation and Reflection: The Promise of Practical Theology, ed. Lewis S. Mudge and James N. Poling (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 1-26

Tillich, Paul, “The Nature of Religious Language,” in The Essential Tillich, ed. F. Forrester Church (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987), 44-56

Berger, Peter L., “Theological Possibilities: Starting with Man,” in A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural (New York: Anchor Books, 1990), 55-85


Class participation 25% of grade

Attendance at and active participation in every class session is expected of all students. Exceptions are only allowed if advance permission has been granted by the instructor, and only for unavoidable absences. In all cases, failure to be in attendance at more than one class session automatically precludes successful completion of the course. The participation portion of the grade includes class leadership roles assigned by the instructor.

Writing assignments 35% of grade

Completion of all seven minor writing assignments (four “Reading synthesis” papers and three “Fieldwork reports”) is essential to advance the learning in this course, and must reflect the details of the assignment sheet distributed at the end of the previous class session. These assignments must be posted to the Blackboard course website by the Friday immediately before the class session for which they are assigned.

Final paper 40% of grade

The final paper integrates the central methods, insights, readings, and findings from the semester. An important criterion is that this paper poses a workable research question that is addressed by arguing appropriate claims based on sound evidence. Details for the final paper, including focus and format, will be provided at the 13 November class session. Final papers must be posted to the Blackboard course website by 15 January 2007.

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500