Public Theology Certificate Program

For the first time, the American Baptist Seminary of the West, in partnership with the PICO National Network, is launching a Public Theology Certificate Program focused on societal issues this summer. The ABSW/PICO partnership for the creation of a program in Public Theology has been made possible by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Interested in the program? Read more below and click here to stay in touch!

Program Details

The 5-course 18-month certificate program is designed to fill the gap between what current seminary curriculum offers and the need for faith-based community leaders to bring their spiritual perspective to the most pressing issues of the day. Classes will cover issues ranging from morality and society to community organizing.  Participants will also be expected to participate in a placement at a community organization working to expand opportunities for justice.

Course Structure


Course 1 – Summer 2017 – Introduction to Public Theology

One-week intensive; begins July 17, 2017
Preparing to take one’s faith public—theory & praxis

Course 2 – Fall 2017 – Morality & Ethics

Weekly semester-long course; Tuesday evenings
Establishing a personal ethical method from which one does their work.

Course 3 – January 2018 – Religion & Society

One-week intensive course; Dates TBD
Analysis of the role religion plays related to the critical social issues of our day

Course 4 – Spring 2018 – Community Organizing

Weekly semester-long course; Day TBD
Training for public theological discourse and organizing

Course 5 – Summer 2018 – internship course

Working with a mentor that has expertise in the student’s area of interest
Working in the field with an expert

ABSW Marching CropThis is What Theology Looks Like



Learning Outcomes

The successful theological student/pastor will have

  • Selected a specific topic/field for study
  • Completed in depth research on their selected area of study
  • Established a systematic method for ethical assessment of contemporary issues
  • Engaged and critiqued the role(s) religion plays in contemporary societal issues
  • Developed practical skills to dialogue and organize in contemporary culture
  • Built working relationships with colleagues and mentors related to their particular interests
  • Participated in theological reflection, dialogue, and community organizing moments related to their topic of study
  • Completed a comprehensive mini-thesis related to their topic of study

The successful student will leave this program prepared to implement faith based strategies related to a specific societal issue of their choosing.


Who Can Apply

The Public Theology Certificate Program is open to both currently enrolled ABSW degree-seeking students and non-ABSW students. For non-ABSW students, applicants must be people involved in congregational leadership (both ordained and non-ordained) for at least two years, and completion of a bachelors degree is preferred.


  • ABSW Students: Certificate courses will be charged at the current masters tuition rate ($700 per unit), with scholarships available for up to 72% for these five courses.
  • Non-ABSW Students: Certificate courses will be charged at the rate of $450 per course, with scholarships available up to 100%.

Application Requirements

Applications must be received no later than July 1, 2017. All applicants must complete the Public Theology Certificate Program application form available online here. The application must be completed in one sitting, so please have the items below prepared in advance before starting the application. Required application materials include:

  • Public Theology Certificate Program application form
  • Essay questions – approximately 250 words for each of the two questions listed here:
    1. What in particular about the Public Theology Certificate Program influenced you to apply?
    2. Select what you understand to be one of today’s most critical issues and reflect on it in terms of your own theological perspective.
  •  Transcript
    — Non-ABSW students: You must submit an official transcript to the Admission Office (address below)   showing that you have completed at least a bachelors degree for your file to be complete.
    — Current ABSW students: You must request an unofficial copy of your ABSW transcript from the ABSW Registrar to be submitted to the Admission Office. Transcripts from your previous degree programs do not need to be re-submitted.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:

Meagan M. Wood, M.Div.
Director of Admissions, ABSW
2606 Dwight Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510)841-1905 ext 229