Academic Programs 

D.Min. Colleague Seminar l (DM-710)
Fall 2008

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. Within that general framework, this particular course seeks 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, interpreting what is discovered through their use, and reflecting theologically on the insights gathered.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
D.Min. Retreat — 14 Sep., 6:00pm, to 16 Sep., 8:00am
D.Min. Mondays — 6 Oct., 27 Oct., 17 Nov., 8 Dec., 10:00am to 4:30p

James Nieman

Professor of Practical Theology

Contact Information:


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 into a practical theological framework, and to show improvements upon previous research recommended by the instructor and students.

All reading assignments are to be completed in advance of the class session for which they are assigned. Following from this, the discussion topics are to be considered for discussion during the class session for which they are assigned. Excepting the “Introductory statement,” all writing assignments must be sent by e-mail to the instructor by the Friday immediately before the class session for which they are assigned.

14-16 September — Retreat at Trinity Conference Center
Method: Research questions
Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp. 40-74
Smith, pp. 3-124, 147-158
Osmer, pp. 1-29
Zuckerman, pp. 11-46
Writing: Introductory statement

6 October — 10:00am to 4:30pm
Method: Participant observation
Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp. 75-107
Osmer, pp. 31-78
Zuckerman, pp. 47-90
Thinking: Discussion topics for 6 October

27 October — 10:00am to 4:30pm
Method: Semi-structured interviews
Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.114-126
Osmer, pp. 79-128
Zuckerman, pp. 91-147
Thinking: Discussion topics for 27 October
Writing: Fieldwork report on participant observation

17 November — 10:00am to 4:30pm
Method: Artifacts and place
Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.127-150
Osmer, pp. 129-173
Zuckerman, pp. 149-193
Thinking: Discussion topics for 17 November
Writing: Fieldwork report on semi-structured interviews

8 December — 10:00am to 4:30pm
Method: Document analysis
Reading: Booth/Colomb/Williams, pp.151-181
Osmer, pp. 175-218
Zuckerman, pp. 195-244
Thinking: Discussion topics for 8 December
Writing: Fieldwork report on artifacts and place

Required reading

Four required texts will be the basis for the four discussion topic periods in class, and will also contribute in various ways to other assignments 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

Osmer, Richard Robert, Practical Theology: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008) ISBN 0802817653

Smith, Christian, Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003) ISBN 0195162021

Zuckerman, Phil, Strife in the Sanctuary: Religious Schism in a Jewish Community (Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 1999) ISBN 0761990542

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. This portion of the grade includes the four discussion topic periods and fieldwork exercises in class.

Writing assignments 30% of grade

Completion of all of the minor writing assignments (i.e., the 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. Excepting the “Introductory statement,” all writing assignments must be sent by e-mail to the instructor by the Friday immediately before the class session for which they are assigned.

Final paper 45% of grade

The final paper integrates the central methods, insights, readings, and findings from the semester into a practical theological framework. This paper must pose 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 17 November class session. Final papers must be sent by e-mail to the instructor by 12 January 2008.

Course extensions
Past experience has shown that timely completion of all assignments and the entire course is essential to successful completion of the overall D.Min. program. As a result, late writing assignments are strongly discouraged and course extensions are not permitted.

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