Thoughts on a UU Seminary in Australia
At the ICUU/ANZUUA conference there was some discussion of the possibility of a Unitarian-Universalist seminary for Australia. "The time is right", was a commonly expressed statement indicating a confidence in our current capacity and needs. The following is a preliminary sketch on how ANZUUA might proceed in establishing such a seminary with some references to how it is conducted at Meadville-Lombard and Starr King in the United States.
To begin with, I believe that such a seminary should - like Meadville-Lombard and Starr King - aspire to high standards of academic excellence and qualification. The recognised post-graduate qualification for ministry is a Masters in Divinity (M. Div), the equivalent of two-years full-time with a Bachelor's degree as a pre-requisite. Using the standardised European system for higher education (the Bologna Accords) this would equate to approximately 1800 hours of study per annum. A Master's in Divinity typically includes coursework in;
- church history and polity,
- pastoral care and counselling,
- comparative religious theology,
- liturgical studies, and
In this case the six course areas would neatly equate with a 300 hours of study in the first year with a 20,000 word thesis taking up the second year.
With regards to to course delivery and cost, I note that Meadville-Lombard and Starr King both have annual fees of around $15000 - $20000 USD per annum. This strikes me as somewhat high in comparison to Australia; I am currently taking an MBA from Chifley via online delivery which comes to a 'mere' $1200 per unit. I would recommend a similar fee structure and delivery.
An obvious consideration, which I hope our friends in the ICUU can help us with, is to establish suitably qualified individuals to provide readings and conduct assessment.