All Faiths Seminary Doctoral Program (continued)
Further Works as an Interfaith Student
To be a doctoral candidate means that you Love to Study.
Many years ago, I found an old script in a glass frame in an antique store. It is signed simply B. Whilton. It begins with the one word, STUDY written in large letters at the top along with pictures of books, and drawings of those involved in study. I bought the piece and it hangs in my study to this day. It reads as follows:
The whole Universe is your library, authors, conversations and remarks upon them,
are your best tutors. There is not a wider difference between Man and Beast than between Man and Man.
And to what is this Difference owing but to the Distinguished Improvement
of the Mind by Study, and Meditation?
Without these Helps, no Distinction of Faculties will render us Conspicuous.
Study to be Eminent. Meritocracy is below a brave Soul. Eminency in Knowledge conjunct with equal
Goodness will be to you of all other most commendable Distinction ~May 16, 1734
As this is an Interfaith Program, students are expected to have a broad background knowledge of all the world faith traditions, in addition to the specific area in which they wish to focus their dissertation – such as the Kabbalah, A Course in Miracles, Mysticism, Sufism, near death experience, reincarnation, ministering to the dying, ministry to animals, prisoners, disaster victims, etc. These areas of concentration can be quite broad.
The Doctoral Program for consists of 4 major parts
1. The Doctoral Dissertation
The Doctorate dissertation work is the key feature in the program. It is expected to be at least 100 pages and have suitable footnotes and bibliography, with a minimum of 6 references. Candidates are expected to look to the Seminary Thesis Committee for approval of topics and be willing to meet with the committee or a representative periodically for reaction and guidance. Of course, the committee will also be available to each doctoral student for general help. Doctoral students are invited and encouraged to meet or confer with Seminary Dissertation Committee members throughout the school year, and are expected to be responsive to questions or comments raised by Seminary members or COU in their review of dissertations.
Our students are all mature adults who have been involved in deep, spiritual work for the better part of their lives and have a good sense of direction and awareness of the areas they wish to explore more deeply. Therefore, the doctorate dissertation is the process for digging deeper into some area you want to understand better and it is a key feature in the program.
What burns in your heart? What do you want to understand better? What do you think it would be fun to study and write about? While the subject must be approved by your advisor in conjunction with the faculty of the seminary, it is unlike we would disapprove your topic though we may have suggestions for ways in which your investigation might be improved upon and how it might proceed.
An idea proposal is due by October 1. If approved, the “idea” should be “fleshed out” including a beginning table of contents and resubmitted by December showing your level of research. The final paper should be delivered both on-line and in a duplicated printed form by May 1 of your graduation year. It is expected to be a minimum of 100 pages and have suitable footnotes and bibliography from a variety of sources.
As the dissertation is central, it is recommended that each student begin writing their dissertation as soon as possible going back over it many times to deepen their level of clarity on their chosen subject. This is where the real “learning” occurs.
2. Exploring Interfaith Spirituality in the 21st Century
Fortunately, in the 21st Century — all of your research can be done on-line, though you may actually want to get a few of the books of different spiritual leaders and read more of their work.
Watkins is the name of the largest metaphysical bookstore in London. Begun in the 1880s, For many years they published a newsletter called Watkin Review which served as a review of metaphysical literature. Watkins is still an active bookstore to this day. They now publish a quarterly magazine called Watkins Mind, Body Spirit. The spring issue each year includes a list of the 100 most spiritually influential people in today’s world. To be on the list:
a. The person has to be alive as of January 1 of the year the magazine is produced.
b. The person has to have made a unique spiritual contribution on a global scale.
c. The person is frequently googled, appears in Nielsen Data, and they areactively talked about throughout the internet. Being “googled” is a form of digital voting.
Prior to the submission of their dissertation, Doctoral students are being asked to produce a paper with a minimum of 30 pages based on their study of the lives and works of these 100 individuals, most all of whom can be found on Wikipedia or just by searching their name on the internet.
Your paper need not include an analysis of all 100 individuals but take a good look at the entire list by simply collecting the basic “data” on each individual. Make note of name, age, ethnic background, county of birth and present residence if known. How many are men, how many are women, what are their ages (oldest, youngest, etc.) Out of which faith tradition did they originate, if any? Eckhart Tolle, for example, represents no particular faith tradition. How many are Christian (Protestants, Catholics, or “other”); how many Islam? How many Hindus, Buddhists, etc.? Is there any dominate faith tradition. Does any major faith tradition seem to be missing from the list? Do any of these leaders represent a new trend in spirituality (e.g. A Course in Miracles)? How many of them have gone through some sort of an “awakening?” How did that awakening occur – i.e. a near death experience?
Who among them are primarily humanitarians? Are any of them regarded as intellectuals, Ph.D.s, professors, etc.? How many of them lack formal academic training and/or never graduated from college (e.g. Marianne Williamson)? Are any of them atheists? Do any of them not appear in Wikipedia (e.g. who is Lars Muhl)? The last several pages of your paper should be a summary of what you have learned in doing this research.
One need not read all or even any of these individual works to learn of their teachings, though you may feel inspired to dip into the writings of a few of these teachers especially the ones you may not have known before. Please submit your paper by January 1st, so you can spend the balance of your time working on your dissertation.
After you have completed your own initial research, you can feel free to talk to the other doctoral candidates about your discoveries. An oral defense of your dissertation will take place at the annual retreat held at Ananda Ashram in Harriman, New York about 1hour north of New York City.
3. Attendance at the 4-day end-of-program retreat; payment of all fees and tuition; and, unless waived for good reason, attendance at the graduation ceremony in Manhattan.
4. Field Work:
2-4 hours per week for 6 months. Select One
A. Enroll and complete one Clinical Pastoral Education Course.
Submit documentation to your mentor.
B. Endeavor to create and coordinate and Interfaith Clergy Association in your community or if one already exists join the organization and be involved in its activities.
Track the process, Face Book page, publicity, evaluate and report on the community activities, number of member, the vision and mission statement of the association
C. Start a monthly Interfaith Service or Fellowship in your community. Track the progress, create a Face Book page, number of participants, advertising, publicity, mission, vision,
Agenda, monthly program.
D. Chaplaincy work – some of you are already doing chaplaincy work. Submit a description and the hours you work.
Cost for the doctorate program is $200 registration fee, plus $6,575, which includes housing and meals at the retreat. A separate $650 fee is charged for accreditation through COU. You are invited to call or otherwise communicate with Rev. Dr. Kathleen Regan, Dean. She can be reached via our Bursar/Registrar, Fran Cosentino, telephone 212-866-3795 or firstname.lastname@example.org