Princeton Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees has voted to approve a new degree program, the Master of Arts in Theology and Ecology (MTE). Unanimously approved by the faculty, this 13-month program will equip graduates to lead with care and compassion by engaging students in the intimate connections among land, space, justice, soil, place, and neighbor. Courses will be centered at the Farminary, a 21-acre farm owned by the Seminary.
“In a moment when we are confronting the challenges of climate change, environmental stewardship, and food justice, the MTE program is a timely and innovative intervention. The expertise, scholarship, and teaching of our faculty is a critical resource for leaders looking to integrate faith, theology, and care for God’s creation,” says Eric D. Barreto, Frederick and Margaret L. Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament and Co-chair of the New Degrees Program Task Force. The task force, commissioned by President Barnes in Fall 2021 and comprised of professors and administrators, set out to explore new masters degrees that could broaden the Seminary’s reach and expand access to a Princeton Seminary education for an increasing number of individuals.
The MTE degree is an immersive program that draws on Princeton Seminary’s community of embodied theological reflection. Students will engage in intensive work at the Farminary during the year’s planting and growing seasons. “The Farminary is an ideal and distinctive classroom for such learning as students and faculty alike share work, study, food, and fellowship,” says Barreto.
Students from all walks of life are invited to apply for the MTE program. Those without training in theological education will take Introduction to the Ecology of Theological Education, a course that will distill foundational concepts from each discipline. Students with prior theological education will complete an independent study during this period. The fall and spring semesters of the program will incorporate established courses connected to the Seminary’s existing degree programs and concentration in Theology, Ecology, and Faith Formation. Students can delve into nuanced explorations of Christianity and ecology through classes such as Soil and Sabbath: Roots for a Vital Church; Ecologies of Faith Formation; and Text and Terrain: Connecting Scripture, Land, and Interpretation.
“For the last seven years, we have been learning at the Farminary the potential and the possibilities of practicing theological education in ways that are more intimately and intentionally connected to land, plants, animals, insects, soils, and the vast host of creation. The MTE gives us the opportunity to share that quality of formation with a broader audience, and particularly with those who sense the urgency of questions that arise at the intersection of theology and ecology,” says Nathan Stucky, director of The Farminary Project at Princeton Seminary.
After completing the 36-credit program, MTE program graduates will have proficient knowledge of the theological disciplines and the ability to articulate a vision of justice and flourishing for creation that is deeply connected to God’s care for all creation. They will also better understand the complex historical and present-day relationships between human and nonhuman beings, as well as the church’s varied and sometimes conflicting roles within these relationships.
Barreto says that the program’s aims directly reflect Princeton Seminary’s mission. “By rooting our students in theological study and the turning of soil, the new MTE program is a natural and transformative extension of Princeton Seminary’s mission to form leaders for the church and God’s beloved world.”
Learn more about the MTE degree program on Princeton Seminary’s website here. To apply for the inaugural cohort of the MTE program, click here.