The annual faculty retreat of the Oikonomia Network, held on Jan. 8-10, focused on the need for theological education to change in a changing world. The retreat hosted 63 theological educators from 23 schools. Plenary speakers addressed the need for both organizational and intellectual changes. Breakout workshops stimulated thought about best practices and program design. And extensive networking opportunities made it easy for faculty to find others to compare notes with.
On Thursday night, Kevin Mannoia, chaplain of Azusa-Pacific University and founder of the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium, started off the retreat with an after-dinner talk titled, “New Tricks for Old Dogs.” He described a changing cultural landscape in which boundaries are becoming more porous, the balance between description and prescription is shifting, and educators need to think more intentionally about the link between theory and practice. While these changes bring their dangers, Mannoia encouraged the assembled faculty to embrace the opportunities for fresh thinking and innovation created by such an environment. He described a number of schools in the U.S. and elsewhere adopting innovative approaches to education. Audio of his talk is available here.