Theology classes not useful

As a Christian institution, Seattle Pacific University’s theological study is the cornerstone of its common curriculum. Come graduation, a traditional undergraduate student will have completed 35 credits of theology classes including USEM, UCOR and UFDN. While undoubtedly personally enriching, these classes require too many credits, and therefore money, which could instead be used for courses relevant to a student’s major and subsequent career.
This is not to say that I have not enjoyed or gained valuable information from some of my required theology classes. The UFDN series in particular has challenged my faith and opened my eyes to aspects of my religion that I was previously unaware of.

However, as a double major with multiple required internships my credits are as precious as gold. I came to SPU knowing the career path I wanted to follow and have stuck with my two majors since the first quarter of freshman year.
In my four years here, I have never taken an extracurricular class out of interest or curiosity, due to my rigorous credit requirements. These 35 credits occupied by theology could have been used to take classes such as Public Speaking or the Power of Logic, which certainly would help me in my pursuit of a law degree. SPU is a Christian university, but more than that, it is an educational institution. And one that is not particularly affordable.

At full tuition prices, each credit costs upwards of $900. This money could have been put toward classes that will further my learning in subjects related to my major, therefore giving me a competitive edge in the job market. While it is to be expected that a Christian university would require theological study, students that graduate from SPU have nothing to show for this acquired knowledge. Biola University requires their students to complete 30 credits of Bible courses before graduation, but they allow their students to put those credits toward a theology minor. Once an additional residency requirement is fulfilled, every Biola graduate is eligible for a Biblical and Theological Studies minor. This tangible proof of their hard work can now be included in resumes and aid their job-hunt. At SPU, we have no such luck.

Instead of requiring theology credits that only count toward common curriculum, classes should be adjusted to count toward majors and minors while incorporating important aspects of Christianity. Classes like this already exist.
The school of business, government and economics provides spirituality and business classes that explore how faith and careers are intertwined. The political science department offers multiple Christianity and politics classes.
Integrating theology into major specific courses would provide faith-based insight into students’ chosen career paths. Furthermore, the classes are likely to be more engaging and challenging as the students already have a vested interest in the material. This simultaneously frees up valued and costly credits to be used for career-relevant courses. So while theology is a valuable subject for students at SPU to explore, there are more time- and cost-effective ways to fulfill the requirements.Requiring fewer classes, providing theology minors or combining classes with major-specific material would provide students with more significant professional and theological growth than 35 credits of unquantifiable theology.

This article was published in print on Dec. 3. Due to technical difficulties, it was published online on Dec. 5.

Natalie Pimblett is a senior political science and latin american studies major.

This article was posted in the section Opinion.

2 thoughts on “Theology classes not useful

  1. I found your article very informative and makes a lot of sense. My daughter said her 2nd required class, I believe UCOR she basically learned/gained nothing from it. It sure would be nice if SPU could do this, at the same time, it sure would be nice if someone else wrote a feedback based on your opinion as to why they don’t or possibly would consider this.

  2. USEM and UCOR have nothing to do with theology. Yes, some USEMs (only two) may be led by theology professors, and yes, UCOR 3000 considers a lot of faith questions. But they are not, in any technical sense, theology courses. USEMs range from literature to biology to human trafficking. UCORs are housed in the College of Arts and Sciences and have to do with humanities (1000), history (2000) and philosophy (3000). With that as the basis of this article’s argument, I found it hard to “buy into” any of the other arguments Natalie posed.

    There are 15 UFDN credits (or 10 for transfer students) required upon graduation. Indeed, these are theology classes. If Natalie wanted to critique the common curriculum (all of the “U’s,” including USEM, UCOR, and UFDN), that is one thing. If she wanted to critique UFDN specifically, this is also acceptable. But to morph those two arguments into one to have the “wow” of “35 required theology credits!!” is faulty.

    It is also true that all professors are Christian here at SPU and most majors DO incorporate theology within their discipline (as Natalie points out). But SPU believes that this is not enough and gives theology its own voice.

    I personally find this irreplaceable, because theology in the business world and theology in the theology world are very different. We have top-of-the-line theology professors here and professors from every department cannot be expected to have the same expertise. In other words, the theology you get from a science professor is different from that of a professor who has a dissertation in theological studies.

    This leads to my next point, which is the beauty of the diversity within a UFDN classroom. It has been so valuable for me to sit in a room and theologize with Nursing, Poli Sci, and Biology students. To ask questions of “How could God____?” with Atheists and Buddhists. There is something unique we can learn about the character of God when we are collected as people looking at God from multiple perspectives.

    I love UFNDs and I would love to hear perspectives from other students on this.

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