Pathways Assignments

Pathways Assignments: Purpose & Description

I. Overview

Pathways Assignments are a required assignment of every course within the Graduate School of Theology for all ministry-degree students (MAGS, MACM, and MDiv). The specific form or requirements of the assignment differ from one course to another. For example, one course may have a very structured and specific assignment while another course is more open-ended and flexible. But each GST course will have one required assignment that is clearly marked and required for every student. Students will complete these assignments within the course and upload them to their e-portfolios as artifacts that will serve as artifacts for their Junior and Senior Review.

II. Rationale

Pathways Assignments serve as one way the curriculum of the GST connects a student’s ministry context (broadly defined) and formation with their coursework. These assignments occur at the intersection of the student’s being, doing, and knowing, and bring together distinct entities or parts to foster and create student wholeness. As such, Pathways Assignments work at both horizontal and diagonal connections. They encourage the student to make horizontal connections between the content of a particular course and the rest of the student’s curriculum. This helps students see how different classes fit together and influence one another, thereby grasping how the various parts of their coursework form an integrated whole. Pathways Assignments also encourage diagonal connections between the student’s own experience, context, and faith journey and their course material and content. This helps students identify how the curriculum and their experience combine to form and direct ministerial practice. Through these two forms of integration, these assignments aim to aid students in the development of competencies for theological and pastoral imagination.

III. Assignment Domains of Emphasis

As a means of fostering theological and pastoral imagination, every Pathways Assignment operates within one or more of the following domains of emphasis:

Ministerial Vocation, Identity & Formation

Emphasizes who the student understands herself or himself to be as a minister and the avenues of formation one’s ministerial identity for the purpose of ministerial flourishing. This component speaks to the student’s developing sense of who they are as a minister and/or to their spiritual formation as one called to ministry.

Theology of Ministry

Emphasizes the biblical, theological, and contextual foundations for the student’s theology of ministry. Engages content of a specific course to develop and/or contribute to the biblical, theological, and contextual foundations of the student’s conception of ministry; what ministry is and how one undertakes it.

Practices & Skills Competency

Emphasizes the student’s ability to perform the practices and skills of their vocation with integrity, faithfulness, and competency. This competency grows from an awareness of the connection between “how” something is done and “why” it is done in this way. This emphasis fosters pastoral integration through which the students embody their vocation in ways that are personally authentic and professionally legitimate.

Theological & Ministerial Integration

Emphasizes the need to make connections between the student’s experiences, context and the theological resources of the Christian Tradition (Scripture, Doctrines, Practices, etc.). This emphasis encourages interpretive connections between the practice of ministry and course material so as to develop the student’s capacities for constructive theological and ministerial actions and proposals.

IV. Assignment Logic

Pathways Assignments take a variety of forms depending on the specific course and the needs of the professor. What unites Pathways Assignments across the curriculum, in addition to addressing the domains of experience described above, is a common logic that moves from a student’s context through the course and back to the student’s context.

  • “From Student Context”: The assignment begins with the student, their experiences, and context. It could be a particular question that arises from their experience or context, a situation in their context, or a formation or identity need. The student brings this to the course, and it serves as a starting point for the assignment.
  • “Through the Course”: The assignment then moves from the student and their context through the content and materials of the course. The student engages the course as a resource for responding to the question, issue, need, or dynamic, and uses the materials and content of the course as a means for thinking through their context and experiences. In this way, the course becomes an interpretive lens through which they perceive, understand, and address a contextual dynamic.
  • “Back to Student Context”: Having engaged the course as a resource and interpretive lens, the student now reflects on their context in light of the course and its content. At this point students can imagine avenues of future action, strategies for growth, deepened ways of understanding, or any number of outcomes that arise from their engagement with the course.

V. Student Instructions for Pathways Assignments

As a required assignment within every GST course, ministry-degree students are expected to complete these assignments for their courses and post the completed assignment in their e-portfolio. Students will complete later reflections on the accumulation of their assignments as part of their Junior and Senior Reviews. Therefore, students should complete the following two steps for every Pathways Assignment:

  1. Complete the Pathways Assignment in the specific course
  2. Post the completed Pathways Assignment in the student’s e-portfolio for later review and reflection


* Students may contact the Director of Contextual Education with questions about Pathways Assignments*