New Research Doctoral Studies initiatives encourage student engagement, development

Katie Coleman
| Nov 12, 2020

Developing core competencies and increasing effectiveness for Kingdom service are two aims of new initiatives launched by the Research Doctoral Studies office at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Jonathan Arnold, RDS director.

The first of these initiatives, the ThinkerSpace for Scholar Innovators, will provide opportunities for further academic development beyond students’ degree programs through engagement and collaborative training among students, faculty, alumni, and visiting scholars. These opportunities include certificate programs such as the Certificate for Teaching Excellence, which comprises a series of workshops and a two-semester teaching assistantship with a mentor professor.

Jonathan Arnold

“We will help them become excellent pedagogues, able to teach effectively in a variety of settings,” Arnold says. “ThinkerSpace for Scholar Innovators will fill the gap between academic excellence and real-life usefulness. The goal of ThinkerSpace is to ensure that our RDS students develop various competencies alongside the content-specific expertise received in the seminars and the library.”

The first workshop was held Oct. 20 and featured Michael S. Wilder, dean of the Terry School of Educational Ministries, and David S. Dockery, distinguished professor of theology, discussing the theological foundations of education and engaging in Q&A with attendees. The second workshop will take place Nov. 19 from 2-4 p.m. and will focus on course design. The workshop will be led by Kevin Jones, dean of the School of Education at Cedarville University, and Melissa Tucker, head of the department of teacher education at Boyce College. More workshops will be available for current and future students in the coming semesters.

Arnold says opportunities like these will provide a unique and valuable experience for students seeking long-term effectiveness in Kingdom service.

“The various studios of ThinkerSpace—engagement, collaborative learning, creative thinking—are designed to enhance already-extant abilities and draw out previously unrealized talents so that the community of scholars—faculty and students alike—are able to benefit from each other,” he says.

The ThinkerSpace for Scholar Innovators is housed within the RDS office and is overseen by Amy L. Crider, director of the doctoral center for writing excellence and associate professor of foundations of education.

Amy L. Crider

Crider says the ThinkerSpace is designed to equip and invest in doctoral students both during their program and after their graduation.

“It is our desire to develop an ever-growing community of Christian scholar innovators who impact Christian higher education and, more importantly, the local church,” Crider says. “One of the many things I love about Southwestern Seminary is the special culture here that fosters genuine community, and the ThinkerSpace expands our ability to do that with the doctoral community.”

The launch of the ThinkerSpace coincides with the launch of the RDS Commons, located physically in Price Hall and virtually in Canvas. Both spaces are available exclusively for faculty and Ph.D. and DMA students. In these spaces, individuals will be encouraged to participate in formal interdisciplinary conversations and projects.

“We firmly believe that scholarship that has no avenue for deployment is wasted,” says Arnold. “Our aim is to help our students become effective stewards of the academic gifts and talents God has given them, helping them to engage the world—through the church, the academy, or the broader marketplace—with their specific expertise.”