Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

10/23 2019

INSIDE THE PTS CURRICULUM: Introduction to Contextual Analysis

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.

This week’s course is “Introduction to Contextual Analysis.”

contextual analysis

About Introduction to Contextual Analysis

During this term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about ministry contexts with Dr. Scott Hagley in the class “Introduction to Contextual Analysis.” This course is required for students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree, and Graduate Certificate in Missional Leadership and open to students in the Master of Theology (MTS) degree program or the other certificate programs.

This course offers an orientation to the ways anthropological and sociological approaches to the interpretation of culture contribute to theological reflection with and within particular socio-cultural contexts. Focusing on a particular neighborhood and/or institutional environment, students will become familiar with the techniques and develop the skills to critically consider the missiological, theological, and ethical dimensions of a Christian community in relation to the wider society.

During the course, students will gain an introduction to the socio-cultural dimensions of theological work while gathering, interpreting, and working with qualitative data. They’ll explore the different hermeneutic considerations one brings to research, including awareness of one’s own social location. Students will be introduced to the role fieldwork can play in theological reasoning and construction as well as the histories, concerns, problems, and possibilities within the neighborhoods adjacent to Pittsburgh Seminary.

Assignments include a book review on theology and cultures, fieldwork presentations, and a final integrative essay. Students are also required to read Studying Congregations: A New Handbook by Nancy Ammerman; Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice, by Mary Clark Moschella; and God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Right, by Charles Marsh.


About the Instructor

Dr. Scott Hagley received a B.A. in youth ministry and communication from Bethel University, an M.Div. from Regent College, and a Ph.D. (with distinction) in congregational mission and leadership from Luther Seminary. He formerly served as director of education at Forge Canada in Surrey, British Columbia, where he worked to develop curriculum for the formation of missional leaders in hubs across Canada. Dr. Hagley also served as teaching pastor at Southside Community Church, a multi-site church in the Vancouver metro area organized around neighborhood-based missional communities. He was a consultant and researcher with Church Innovations Institute and has lectured at denominational meetings and retreats on topics such as missional communities, faith, and spiritual formation. His most recent publication is Eat What Is Set Before You: A Missiology of the Congregation in Context.

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