Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education

p-rel2The vision and direction of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE) are laid out in its strategic plan for 2010 to 2012, which guided faculty meetings and curricular reviews in the 2010-2011 academic year.

Collaboration and partnerships

Collaboration and partnerships are important to the University-wide strategic plan Towards 2016. These relationships are even more essential for GRE, given its small size and limited resources. Several collaborative initiatives and partnerships have been formed during the past academic year.

The vision for instituting an AJCU Conference for Theological, Pastoral, and Ministerial Education was conceived at Fordham University four years ago. In April 2012, the 12 Jesuit universities participating in the Conference will hold their annual meeting, entitled “Building Bridges Within the Jesuit University and Beyond: Theology, Pastoral Studies and Spirituality in Service to Church and World.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 3.40.10 PMThe graduate school’s relationship with the Archdiocese of Hartford bore fruit as students from an initial certificate program completed that program and were admitted to master’s programs at GRE. The graduate school has contacted more than 25 dioceses in the United States to talk about starting collaborations like the one with Hartford.

The initial lecture in collaboration with the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center in Purchase, N.Y., took place in spring 2011. GRE is prepared to build on this collaboration in the coming year with a course taught jointly by a rabbi and Patrick Ryan, S.J., the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society.

Online education

The hiring of a new assistant dean for marketing/admissions in December 2011 has allowed GRE to reach its goal of promoting online programs regularly throughout the United States and developing nations. In 2010-2011, the school had online students from 12 states and three foreign countries: Australia, Denmark and Zimbabwe. This year, online course enrollments grew 13 percent over the previous year, and 30 percent of GRE’s total credit hours are derived from online courses, a 5 percent increase over the prior year.

Latino/a programs

The Latino/a programs continue to expand the efforts of Joseph Fitzpatrick, S.J., a forceful advocate for the successful integration of Puerto Rican immigrants into New York City and the Catholic Church. His work for the Hispanic community was recognized nationally and it serves as the cornerstone for program development.

Grants have provided full- or half-tuition scholarships for Latino and Latina students in master’s programs at GRE. A major conference was held and new summer programs were initiated in the past academic year. The expansion of the school’s online programs to include the master of arts in religious education in Latino/a studies, under consideration, would bolster growth in this area. GRE and Latin American Jesuit schools have discussed collaboration through the use of the extensive online degrees and courses shared by members of the Asociación de Universidades Confiadas a la Compañía de Jesús en América Latina (AUSJAL). It is hoped that this collaboration would not only involve students but also allow AUSJAL faculty to teach Latino/a ministry courses to American students.