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FROM SOVEREIGNTY TO SERVICE: THEOLOGY’S ENGAGEMENT WITH THE LIBERAL ARTS
A CONFERENCE PRESENTED BY THE TST GRADUATE STUDENT ASSOCIATION
As graduate education at the Toronto School of Theology develops conjointly with the University of Toronto, students at TST find themselves immersed in work that has historically laid claim to the sovereignty of the whole university’s curriculum, particularly that of the Faculty of Arts and Science. At the same time, theology’s presence in the modern research university is frequently obscure, and, where flourishing, portrayed in tension with dominant methodological trends in the liberal arts, of no use in seeking after truth. Availing themselves of this opportunity, the organising committee of the 2016 TGSA Conference, entitled From Sovereignty to Service: Theology’s engagement with the Liberal Arts, to be held on Friday, March 11, 2016, invite submissions on a range of topics related to current student work and the theme of theological engagement with the liberal arts curriculum in an attitude of service. Where has conflict erupted, and why? How can theology indispensably serve the liberal arts (including the humanities, social sciences, pure and applied sciences) once more? Where are theological insights needed? Where are they already being proclaimed? What can the liberal arts teach theology? How do we usefully do theology in the university? Biblical, theological, historical, or pastoral, as well as interdisciplinary, considerations of these, and related questions, are most encouraged.
The conference will feature a keynote address to be delivered by Professor James R. Ginther, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, University of St Michael’s College.
Students may submit proposals in different formats. Examples include: 1) individually delivered papers in 20/20 format (i.e., 20 minute presentations and 20 minute Q&A period to follow), or 2) panel proposals consisting of multiple presenters sharing research on a common theme. The structure of presentations may take any form consented to by the TGSA, for a total allotment of 80 minutes.
Submit a Proposal that includes:
- Title of presentation
- Proposal of about 250 words, including the problem you propose to tackle, how will you address the conference theme of theological engagement with the liberal arts, the direction of the contributions you wish to make, and how you plan to foster dialogue both among the other presenters, and the audience (include a breakdown of time allotted to each dimension of the panel)?
- Requests for A/V equipment
In a covering message please include: names of all presenters, institutional affiliation, degree programme and current status, contact information.
All proposals should be submitted by email attachment by Friday, January 31, 2016 to Jonathan Lofft, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TGSA is pleased to announce that the winner of the Fall TGSA Conference Award is Wycliffe ThD student, Chandra Wim. Chandra won the award to present his paper “Hermeneutics of Love and Conversion: Augustine on the Character of the Interpreter” in the Ethics and Biblical Interpretation program track at the 2015 annual conference of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). SBL was founded in 1880 to foster biblical scholarship. This year their Annual Conference is held from 21-24 November 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Chandra Wim will present his paper on the 22 November 2015 and his respondent will be Dr Willis Jenkins, of the University of Virginia. Congratulations Chandra!
Hermeneutics of Love and Conversion: Augustine on the Character of the Interpreter
Is there such thing as ethics of reading the Bible? What would it look like? Why do we need one? What would Augustine say about this? Drawing mostly from his De Doctrina Christiana (later DCC), this paper argues that for Augustine one’s character is as much as, if not more important than one’s ability to use scholarly tools in the process of scriptural interpretation. Augustine’s preoccupation on the theory of signs (Book 2 and 3 of DDC) is based on his theology of love (Book 1). Love (caritas) is the hermeneutical key to unlock Scripture’s meaning, for the end of Scripture and its study is the dual love of God and neighbor. It is also a criterion to determine whether a text should be interpreted literally or figuratively: whatever passage that does not literally pertain to the dual love of God and neighbor must be taken to be figurative. For Augustine, this is where the character of the reader plays a crucial role, for only practitioners of Christian love can discern caritas being taught in passages whose literal sense contradicts it. In this sense, Scripture-reading is a kind of spiraling ascent where one continuously grows in love and understanding. Indeed, Augustine sees this ascent as a spiritual ascent where one moves from the fear of the Lord (which is the beginning of knowledge) toward Wisdom, which is Christ himself. This in turn means that exegetical precision and correct interpretation, however important they may be, are always secondary in comparison to the spiritual reality and transformation that is taking place when one encounter God in and through Scripture. Similarly, exegetical techniques and critical tools, however important they may be in this endeavor, are always secondary in comparison to the character of the reader. This is because Augustine discerns that the greatest problem one have with Scripture is not intellectual, but spiritual in nature. The main problem, in other words, is not the historical distance between the contemporary reader and the ancient authors of Scripture, but the spiritual distance between us and the God of Scripture that is caused by our sin and pride. Thus, while the ultimate aim for reading Scripture is to be transformed into Christlikeness, the reader herself needs to be transformed by the Holy Spirit in order to be a better reader of Scripture. Yet the Spirit’s primary means for character transformation is the Scripture itself. Thus, there is a mutual relationship between the sacred text and the reader that is transformative in nature. This transformation calls for a kind of hermeneutic of conversion that is necessary in any serious Christian scriptural interpretation enterprise.
TST Graduate Students’ Association (TGSA)
The TGSA Conference Award is awarded to a graduate (advanced degree) student who requires support for scholarly engagement in an academic conference; and, has exhibited excellence in their studies by maintaining first-class standing and satisfactory progress in their program. The awards are designated solely to support participation in scholarly conferences (for example, the AAR/SBL or Canadian Congress of the Humanities, among others). The TGSA Conference Award will normally be awarded to students who do not qualify for the GCTS Conference Award owing to the restrictions set down by the OSOTF (Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Funds). In the event that there are insufficient applicants who are not eligible for OSOTF funding, then the TGSA Conference Award may be awarded to applicants who are eligible for OSOTF funding.
The following are required:
- A very brief letter (max. 250 words in MS Word or PDF) describing both: the significance of the conference; and, the student’s academic achievements.
- Proof of the acceptance of a scholarly paper at a conference, along with the actual conference proposal.
- TST “OSOTF Financial Need Assessment Form.” This form includes a declaration of financial need. The statement of eligibility will assist in determining the prioritization of the awards.
- A written declaration giving TST permission to use your name and photograph in publicity on its website.
There is approximately $1,200 total in the awards pool. Each individual award is typically a maximum of $300, with up to four awards offered annually. The TGSA has formally requested that the GCTS handle the advertising, short-listing, selection and awarding of the TGSA Conference Award. The GCTS Executive will rank applicants for the award in the event other funds become available or a student declines the award. The GCTS shall notify the TGSA Executive of the successful applicant and the TGSA Treasurer shall arrange payment of the award to the successful applicant. Award winners who do not end up attending the conference will have to refund to the TGSA the entire award amount. Award winners may not apply for the award in the next academic year, but may apply for further awards after that
This award is managed, at the request of the TGSA, by the GCTS Office. The funds awarded are from those controlled by the TGSA, and the amount of the annual Awards Pool is approved annually by the TGSA Board. The TGSA Conference Award is envisioned to be offered alongside the GCTS Conference Award – which currently is restricted owing to its funding source. In the event that the source of funds or eligibility requirements for the GCTS Conference Award changes, the TGSA Board may reconsider the eligibility requirements for the TGSA Conference Award.
Fall deadline, for Fall and Winter conferences (typically held between September to February):
- Monday, November 16, 2015 (5pm)
Spring deadline, for conferences held in the Spring and Summer:
- To be announced
New Minutes have been published. Find them under the Documents tab.
Hopefully you participated in the ADSA referendum on student fees. The results are in and included for your reading enjoyment, as is the course of action for ADSA given the results.
1: “Since 2007, full-time students have paid $10/year (part-time: $5/year) to the Advanced Degree Students’ Association (ADSA) to fund professional development seminars, social events, travel bursaries, and since 2012, an annual student conference. However, because of changes in enrollment, the ADSA’s revenue has declined the past four years, and the ADSA Board has recommended an increase in the ADSA fee. Effective September 2015, shall we increase the ADSA fee to $16/year for full-time students and $8/year for part-time students?”
35 yea 3 nay What this means is that we (the ADSA board) have gone to TST to inform them that the students have okayed raising the fee for next year-we’ll keep you informed.
2 “The ADSA Board has also recommended a conditional increase in the ADSA fee of no more than $1 a year (part-time: $0.50/year) for future years. This increase would only take effect if enrolment continued to decline and a vote of the full ADSA Board authorized the increase. Shall we authorize future ADSA Boards to raise the ADSA fee by up to $1/year for full-time students and $0.50/year for part-time students, for the four academic years starting in September 2016 and ending in April 2020?”
32 yea 7 nay What this means is that the ADSA board, until 2020, will be able to consider raising the ADSA fee by the given amount without having a vote of the student body-anything more than this amount will have to come back to all the AD students for a vote.
3:” At present part-time and full-time doctoral students pay the same tuition, but starting in September 2015, part-time domestic students in Year 5 will save over $3,000/year compared to their full-time counterparts. Then in September 2016 part-time international students in Year 5 will also save over $3,000/year, with similar savings for every subsequent year. However, because part-time TST students are currently not members of a university student association, students who switch to being part-time lose their supplemental health and dental insurance. In contrast, part-time University of Toronto students pay $200 a year to the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS) in membership fees and insurance premiums. The APUS health and dental plan is similar to our full-time plan with the following major differences: a 10% co-pay and $2,000/year maximum for prescription drugs; a 35% co-pay and $600/year maximum for dental work, excluding comprehensive oral surgery or any denture services; and no coverage for hearing aids or psychotherapy but added coverage for prescription contacts and glasses ($100 every 2 years) and vaccines. Therefore, shall we ask APUS if part-time students can pay the $200/year fee to join APUS and their health and dental plan, with the same options as full-time students to have their insurance premiums refunded if they have another plan or move out of Canada? ”
26 yea 1 nay 12 don’t care/doesn’t affect me What this means is that ADSA will begin looking into what would be required to join APUS. No one will be joining APUS in the coming year (2015/16), but more information will be forthcoming.
4: “Basic degree students at TST colleges pay the Athletics and Recreation, Hart House, and Student Life fees and, in exchange, receive access to fitness classes, equipment, and facilities, Hart House classes, clubs, and committees, the Career Centre, and other centres and services described at http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/. Shall we ask TST and the University if full-time advanced degree students can pay the $800.36/year (part-time: $160.10/year) Athletics and Recreation, Hart House, and Student Life fees and receive these benefits?”
yea 16 nay 23 What this means is that ADSA will not be pursing the increase in student fees. It also means that as AD students we do not have access to these things (unless you pay for them personally, such as for Hart House).
As always, if you have questions please feel free to contact any member of the board.
Here is the Agenda for the next ADSA board meeting. As always you are welcome to attend the meeting or if you cannot but have concerns you want us to address just let someone on the board know and we will take it up.
ADSA Board Meeting
Agenda for 10 February 2015
2pm Boardroom 1, TST
1: Welcome and opening Prayer
2: College Reps
3: Department Reps
5: Drawing for survey gift card
6: Travel Bursaries
7: Town hall recap
8: PD Seminar
9: Election and AGM
-Set Date for AGM
-Who is still on for next year/what positions are open
10: New PhD Issues
11: Other business