Bridging Gaps in Theological Education: The Institutional Doctoral Network's Collaboration

The Institutional Doctoral Network (IDN), a pioneering initiative dedicated to transforming theological education, recognized the urgent need to support historically marginalized doctoral students.

March 7, 2024

The Institutional Doctoral Network is a program led by the Forum for Theological Exploration which seeks to equip and empower PhD students in theological education.

IDN chose to partner with Yohana Junker, Tamisha Tyler, and Aizaiah Yong, practitioners and educators known for their decolonial and socially liberative approaches. Their collaboration aimed to create a nurturing program and community for students to engage in spiritual practices and open dialogues about the challenges posed by christian white supremacy in higher education. The team’s ambition was clear: to build a community that not only addressed but also began to dismantle the systemic barriers facing doctoral students in theology.

The collaboration was marked by innovative strategies to extend the reach and deepen the impact of their work. Leveraging digital media, the team demythologized the PhD journey into a communal approach, making the conversation more engaging and inclusive for a wider audience. This approach underscored the power of storytelling, honesty, resourcing, and digital platforms which center voices that subvert the status quo.

Central to the IDN project was the belief in the collective wisdom arising from diversity. The initiative thrived on authentic, honest exchanges, fostering a space where difficult conversations could lead to real change and encouragement. Aizaiah's role as a facilitator and co-creator was to invite participants to share their truths and listen deeply to themselves and one another. 

The impact of this collaboration extends beyond this immediate project. It serves as a beacon for how academia, particularly in fields as influential as theology, can embrace new communities and move in new directions. 

As theological education continues to evolve, the work of the Institutional Doctoral Network, enriched by Spirited Renewal's insights, stands as a testament to the transformative power of collaboration. It is a clear example of how dedicated individuals and organizations can come together to bridge gaps, challenge norms, and create a more inclusive and equitable academic landscape.