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New grant to study how theological education can be more intercultural

Union Presbyterian Seminary professor looks to create more diverse course requirements

by Union Presbyterian Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Dr. Safwat Marzouk

RICHMOND, Virginia — Union Presbyterian Seminary Associate Professor of Old Testament Dr. Safwat Marzouk has received a grant to examine how theological education can become more intercultural in substantive ways beyond just assigning diverse readings.

Through participation in the Seek the Welfare program through Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, Dr. Marzouk will look into how different cultures think critically and how this should be reflected in creating diverse course requirements.

“The growing diversity of Union Presbyterian Seminary’s faculty and student body offers a great opportunity for my ministry to thrive and grow,” Marzouk said. “Encountering people who are diverse culturally and theologically deepens our relationship with God and broadens our sense of call and vocation as a learning community. For this to happen in an effective way, members of the learning community ought to become more aware of their cultural location and the different styles of learning embraced as a gift.”

While the body of the students at Union Presbyterian Seminary is becoming more diverse, many course requirements are still shaped by the scholarly traditions of historical criticism. Marzouk’s project seeks to revise some of his syllabi to become more diverse, not only in relation to the readings required but also in relation to the various projects that the students are asked to do.

“I want to transform my syllabi and the course requirements that are included in them to empower the students to think critically based on their cultural background,” he said.

Marzouk is an Egyptian Presbyterian whose research interests include thinking theologically about monsters in the Bible, Ancient Near East, and popular culture; constructing the other in the Old Testament; Middle Eastern Christian hermeneutics; and immigration and the Bible.

Leadership Education at Duke University aims to create lasting change in U.S. congregations by supporting Christian leaders and the institutions they serve. It designs educational services, develops intellectual resources, and facilitates networks of institutions that cultivate a coherent vision of Christian institutional leadership and form Christian leaders. Leadership Education is a non-degree-granting initiative of Duke Divinity School funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and based in Durham, North Carolina.

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