A Global Theological Education Survey started by the Ecumenical Theological Education program of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in partnership with other organizations is under way, and will result in the launch of a web based global directory of theological institutions.

The directory will increase the exchange and dialogue among theological educators around the world. It builds on an existing online resource and will cover a much larger number of entries than previous efforts.  

In an April 29-30 meeting at the Center for the Study of World Christianity in Boston, major progress was reported on the Global Theological Education Survey, which has been carried out by this institution and the Chicago based Institute for Cross-Cultural Theological Education in partnership with the WCC.

In the survey, theological educators and heads of theological institutions from diverse Christian denominations and cultural background all around the world are asked to fill in a questionnaire providing information on trends, challenges, accessibility and prospects of the theological education in their regions.

The targeted programs and institutions in the survey range from divinity schools, theological seminaries and theological faculties at universities to regional theological education initiatives of mission and discipleship training programs.

The questionnaire is available in seven languages including Chinese, Korean, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Romanian.

“This is the first systematic research project on trends and needs for theological education and ministerial formation since 1910,” said Dietrich Werner, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Theological Education program.

Results from this project will be presented at the 10th Assembly of the WCC at Busan, Korea in 2013, said Werner. 

“One of the highlights of this research project is the creation of a web based directory of theological institutions. This will have a significant impact on creating effective exchange of information and academic resources among the theological educators at an international level,” he added.

Werner also shared reflections on the context and need for this project in his lecture on Theological education in the changing context of world Christianity for the Overseas Ministries Study Center in the US.

The invitation to respond to the global survey on theological education project has been extended and is still open for participation. Following a sufficient number of responses, the new digital directory will be accessed through the Global Digital Library for Theology and Ecumenism (GlobeTheoLib) and the World Christian Database.

According to Werner and the two other key organizers of this project ― Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston and David Esterline from the Institute for Cross Cultural Theological Education in Chicago, this project responds to the vital needs of theological education in World Christianity in the 21st century.

Respondants to the survey will receive both access to the GlobeTheoLib and to a summary evaluation of the research project at the beginning of 2013.