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Curriculum & Course Descriptions

The Master of Arts in Theology and Leadership (MATL) program offers a strong theology core with courses in leadership studies, scripture, history, systematic and moral theology, and Ignatian spirituality.

39 semester credits are required to complete the M.A. in Theology & Leadership program.

  • 27 credits in Core Courses
  • 6 credits in Electives
  • 6 credits in Organizational Leadership Electives

Comprehensive Exam:
Once students complete the core, they will take an online comprehensive exam. Designed to assess overall competency in the Theology core, the exam will be evaluated by the student’s advisor and two graduate faculty members then graded on a pass or fail scale. Students must complete the exam in order to register for RELI 698. Students are allowed to take the exam twice to earn a passing grade.

The core curriculum offers a strong foundation in theological studies. It includes two courses in biblical studies, church history, moral theology, and Ignatian spirituality and a two-course sequence in systematic theology. In addition, a core course in Christian leadership will introduce students to the discipline of leadership studies and organizational theory as they relate to Christian ministry.

RELI 505 Christian Leadership (Residency I) (3 credits)

Taken during summer at the beginning of the program, this course raises fundamental questions regarding Christian leadership and organizational understanding. What makes a Christian leader? How is leadership exercised effectively in mission-driven organizational contexts? How do we interpret and understand organizational behavior? Students will evaluate leadership styles and begin developing an understanding of organizations by reflecting on scripture, Christian tradition, leadership and organizational theories, social sciences, and the arts. The course concludes with a retreat experience on campus.

On-campus Residency I: Theology and Leadership Retreat (3 days, RELI 505: Christian Leadership)
The Theology and Leadership Retreat brings students together to spend time in prayer and celebration, to reflect on their vocations as leaders in the church and world, and to begin building a community of learners with their cohort. Students will also discover the larger Gonzaga community, explore the Ignatian spiritual practice of discernment, inspire each other with their personal stories, and collaborate with others in transformative team-building exercises. Taken as part of the Christian Leadership course, the retreat connects spiritual formation to the study of leadership.

  • Residency dates will be August 17-19, 2017

RELI 506 Systematics I: God – Humanity – Christ (3 credits)

The first of a two course sequence, this course explores systematic theological questions regarding the nature of God, God’s relationship with humanity, and the person and mission of Christ.  Who or what is God? How does God relate to the created order, especially to the human world? What is redemption? What is the incarnation? Beginning with a consideration of theological method, this course introduces students to both classical texts and contemporary approaches to these and other theological questions.

RELI 507 Systematics II: Spirit – Church – World (3 credits)

The second in a two course sequence, this course explores systematic theological questions regarding the mission of the Spirit in the church and the world, including theologies of history and eschatology, but with special attention to the liturgical and sacramental life of the church broadly understood.  What is the mission of the Spirit? Who is the church? Where is the Spirit moving us today? How do we participate in the work of the Spirit? The course explores these systematic theological questions related to the fields of ecclesiology, liturgical and sacramental theology, and mission and ministry through an examination of classical and contemporary writers.

RELI 510 Biblical Interpretation I: Old Testament (3 credits)

Written over the course of roughly 1000 years, the Hebrew scriptures are some of the most referenced works of all time. Three of the world’s religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, revere them as sacred writings. Indeed these texts represent the overwhelming majority of the Christian Bible. This course introduces students to methods of biblical interpretation, explores the historical origins and development of the Old Testament, and explores the theological themes of these texts. What are the chief concerns of the writers and to whom are these writings addressed? Where were they written and when? How did these writings develop over time? Students will explore these questions, among others, by utilizing tools from the academic fields of history, cultural anthropology, archaeology, and literature.

RELI 519 Biblical Interpretation II: New Testament (3 credits)

The canonical New Testament comprises an anthology of early Christian literature composed over roughly a seventy-year time period (50-120 CE). This stage in formative Christianity witnessed the transformation of the early Jesus groups from essentially a Jewish reform movement centered in ancient Palestine to a predominantly Gentile movement spread throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. Our goal in this course will be to examine and interpret a representative selection of texts from the New Testament in a manner that does justice both to the world behind the text (the social/historical dimension) and the world in front of the text (the theological dimension).

RELI 530 Moral Theology (3 credits)

What are the foundational sources, principles, and concepts of Christian ethics? What is the good life that leads to human flourishing? In order to answer these questions, Christians turn to four sources: the Bible, the teachings of the church (tradition), reason, and experience. This course will explore the foundational sources of moral theology and apply these sources to moral discernment in concrete situations through case studies. Students will pay particular attention to the way in which context impacts moral discernment and effective moral leadership.

RELI 545 Church History (3 credits)

How has Christianity developed over time? What questions drove the Christian community to reflect further on the meaning of being Christian in various historical and cultural situations? This course provides students with a historically grounded understanding of the Christian tradition from its origins to the present day. Students will explore the relationship between Christianity and culture and the central human and religious questions expressed in the history of Christian belief.

RELI 581 Ignatian Spirituality (3 credits)

This course introduces students to Ignatian spirituality, beginning with a review of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and reflecting on their significance for effective leadership in the contemporary context. Students will explore key themes in Ignatian spirituality such as inner freedom, contemplation in action, other-oriented concern, discernment of spirits, and finding God in all things, among others. Students will bring practices of Ignatian spirituality to bear on emerging challenges in their own lives and ministries.

RELI 606 Ministry Leadership Seminar (Residency II) (1 credit)

This seminar brings students together with faculty and professionals in a variety of ministries to explore the challenges and opportunities of leadership in ministry. Students will reflect on their own experiences in ministry and model real-life situations as they learn to apply leadership principles in the context of ministries including presiding, liturgical ministry, parish administration, and religious education.

On-campus Residency II: Theology and Leadership Institute (5 days, RELI 606)
The Theology and Leadership Institute hosts a series of mission and ministry leadership seminars. Students will connect with experienced professionals from various ministry and mission related fields including parish ministry, education, healthcare, and advocacy and charity organizations. In these intensive seminars students will be immersed in real-life situations in a workshop environment in which they can integrate insights from their coursework into their practice of authentic leadership. In addition students will hear presentations from experts and spend time as a cohort in prayer and discernment.

RELI 698 Thesis/Integration Project (2 credits)

Course description coming soon.

RELI 5** Special Topic Elective I: Contemporary Issues (3 credits)

This course draws from, deepens, and expands on knowledge and skills developed in the core curriculum with a special focus on contemporary challenges students face in exercised leadership in the church and the world. The course begins with a general discussion of contemporary theological challenges. Students then choose one special topic that brings core areas into dialogue with contemporary issues, such as the Bible in popular culture, theology in the multi-religious context, bioethics, and spirituality on the margins. Students come together at the end of the session to share what they have learned with the cohort and to explore how it impacts their understanding of theology and leadership.

RELI 5** Special Topic Elective II: Faith in Dialogue (3 credits)

Like Elective I, this course allows students to customize a course of study. Students will be able to choose from among a variety of interdisciplinary investigations of faith in dialogue. The course begins with reflection on the place of dialogue in theology and leadership before students break out into groups and explore topics such as inter-religious dialogue, theology and science, religion and violence, and theology and politics. Students come together at the end of the session to share what they have learned with the cohort and to explore how it impacts their understanding of theology and leadership.

Students are required to take two Organizational Leadership courses for a total of 6 credits.  Your faculty advisor will help determine which ORGL electives are best based on your individual goals and career plans.

ORGL 504 Organizational Communication (3 credits)

This will explore contemporary concepts about the meanings and functions of communication in organizations.  Organizational communication encompasses not only communication within businesses, but also within large private and nonprofit associations, larger community groups and governments both large and small.  We will cover selected topics in organizational communication research such as culture, socialization, systems theory, communication and technology and globalization.

ORGL 506 Leadership and Diversity (3 credits)

Who we are – whether we are comfortable with this idea or not – is shaped in part by the social roles we occupy and how society sees us in those roles. As we will see from the very beginning of this class, our social roles, the class we are born into and our gender all have implications for our lives. We will explore intercultural communication as a tool for bridging differences and learning about identities, practices and cultures.

ORGL 516 Organizational Development (3 credits)

This course focuses on how OD consultants – internal or external – can support both leaders and all members of an organization in achieving their goals, mission and vision. Students will explore ways to conduct systematic diagnoses of organizations, consider how to create and implement effective OD interventions, and investigate multiples methods, tools, and technologies used to effectively implement major change in organizations. Through consideration of the predictable human dynamics involved when orchestrating the implementation of major disruptive change, students will develop an awareness of the nature, application, and practice of the profession of Organizational Development.

ORGL 518 Transforming Leadership (3 credits)

How do contemporary leaders go beyond the social exchange theory to convert followers into leaders and leaders into moral agents? This course offers a comparison of transactional and transforming leadership by examining past leaders and events. An examination of the dynamics of transformation and how leadership can facilitate it within individuals and organizations will help students develop new insights into the theory and practice of transforming leadership.

ORGL 530 Servant Leadership (3 credits)

The foundations of Servant-leadership are explored with an emphasis on reviewing the original writings, and on conceptualizing and articulating the philosophy through a clarification of what it is, and why Servant-leadership is relevant. Human development theories are used as theoretical frameworks for identifying criteria to assess servant-leaders and servant-organizations, and for understanding how they develop and function. Dialogue is encouraged as a way of integrating aspects of the philosophy with applied experience and gain insights into the students own leadership approach.

ORGL 532 Leadership, Justice and Forgiveness (3 credits)

Emotional discipline based in love calls a person toward meaningful responses to human suffering. Such responses are grounded in discernment regarding human conflict, oppression, power and harm, and the opportunities – personal, familial, societal and global – that rise from the crucible of potential that is our humanity. The course engages students toward self-responsibility in the context of reconciliation and the depth of heart, mind and spirit that leads to healing and growth in community with others. Students will work to apply the interior leadership necessary for discernment and action within oppressive systems.

ORGL 535 Listen, Discern, Decide (3 credits)

In this class, students will learn more in-depth concepts of Servant-leadership by learning approaches and practices of listening and discernment as a way of enhancing decision-making capacity. The course begins with a focus on interior and exterior listening. Listening and awareness techniques are then integrated with the principles and practices of discernment. The course progresses from a focus on the individual, to group, to listening and discerning and decision making in organizations and communities.

ORGL 550 Team Building and Leadership (3 credits)

3-day on-campus residency

This three-day intensive program is designed to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of leadership and team development through a combination of information sessions and active participation in cooperative, challenge activities. Challenge activities are designed to enhance students’ critical thinking skills, creativity, problem-solving ability and ability to work effectively as a team. These activities present opportunities to taking leadership roles, recognize leadership styles, identify what works and what doesn’t work in given situations and apply lessons to real life situations. Topics include the communication process, leadership models and styles, stages of team development, ethics, diversity and visionary or principle-centered and creative leadership.

ORGL 610 Communication and Leadership Ethics(3 credits)

Inquiry into the personal, organizational, and social values present in moral dilemmas. Students will develop skills in ethical communication and decision-making and recognize how to act for the common good as leaders who can acknowledge and consider multiple moral perspectives within a global context.

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