Field education

The field education components of the ministry program offer students the opportunity to combine practice and reflection in their theological education.

The aim of field education is not only to provide practical experience, but also to foster mutual enrichment between the academic study and the practice of religious leadership – to allow for practical engagement in the tasks of ministry to challenge and enrich the student’s academic study at the Divinity School, and for this study to challenge and enrich the student’s professional practice.

In the first year of study, students participate in a community engagement experiences in conjunction with their Colloquium studies, spending time in a nontraditional ministry settings unique to the South Side of Chicago. Some of the ministry partners include the Spiritual Care Program at Jackson Park Hospital and the Cook County Jail.

The field education internship takes place during the student’s second year in the program, concurrent with the Arts of Ministry sequence on ritual and preaching, spiritual care and leadership, and the field education Practicum. Each student works 15–20 hours per week in a local religious community, under the direction of a site supervisor. The student meets with the supervisor for at least an hour each week to reflect on the practice of religious leadership and forms a Lay Committee of three to five congregants for additional feedback during the year. In consultation with the Director of Field Education the student chooses the religious community with which he or she will work during their first year of study. Current students may find the necessary forms for the congregational placement in the appendices of the Ministry Handbook.

Unlike the second-year internship, the field work requirement can be accomplished outside of a religious community. The field work component of the degree functions as a workshop for the integration of academic study and theory with the practice of the ministerial arts in the context of a closely supervised working relationship with a professional practitioner. The particulars of the field work experience are open to the specific interests of the student provided that the student can demonstrate that the internship offers some direct involvement in the practice of reliigous leadership.

Students choose to complete their field work requirements at any stage of the program. Many elect to use the summer after their first or second year to engage their particular field work selection. This requirement can be met in several ways:

  • A basic unit of Clinical Pastoral Education.
  • A summer intensive in a local congregation or agency of 40–50 hours per week for eleven weeks.
  • A second year part-time (15–20 hours per week) in a local congregation or agency for three quarters.
  • Some other specialized form of ministry approved by the Director of Ministry Studies and the Director of Field Education.

All students must have their field work approved in advance by the Director of Field Education. Current students may find the necessary forms for field work in the appendices of the Ministry Handbook.

Clinical Pastoral Education is one way to fulfill the Divinity School's field work requirement. Here is a brief description of CPE from the website of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education:

"Clinical Pastoral Education was begun in 1925 as a form of theological education offered in many kinds of settings: in hospitals and health care including private, university, military, and veterans facilities; in prisons and correctional institutions; in parishes and cogregations; in hospices and other places that care for the dying; in psychiatric facilities and community care; in business, industry and other workplace settings; in retirement homes and geriatric centers; in rehabilitation centers such as those for physical illness and injury; and in communities, both urban and rural. The textbooks for CPE include in-depth study of 'the living human documents.' By 'living human documents,' we mean both the people who receive care as well as a study of ourselves, the givers of care. Through the practice of ministry and the reflection thereon with supervisor and peers, the experiential learning that is CPE takes place."

Although not required by the Divinity School for the MDiv, many denominations require a basic unit of CPE for ordination, consecration, or certification. All students are thus encouraged to inquire about their denominations policies regarding CPE. For more information about CPE, please visit the ACPE's website: http://www.acpe.edu/.

Why Chicago?

Director of Field Education and Community Engagement Wesley Sun talks about the diverse contexts for learning in the Divinity School and the greater Chicagoland area. 

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