LAKELAND, Fla. — Southeastern University (SEU) has recently been awarded a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., as a part of its Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. SEU was one out of 21 theological schools across the United States and Canada to be approved for a grant, and the university will be using the funds to finance their proposal, Project Ostiarius.
Lilly Endowment is a private philanthropic foundation that supports the causes of religion, education, and community development. With the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, it aims to strengthen the educational programs of theological schools and enhance their financial viability so they are able to better equip and support the next generation of pastoral leaders for Christian congregations.
SEU’s Project Ostiarius will aim to accomplish this goal through the research, design, and implementation of a new educational delivery modality utilizing the advancements of Competency Based Education (CBE). Through the CBE modality, SEU will focus specifically on providing competency-based, contextualized graduate education for current and aspiring Hispanic and Latino ministers and pastors.
“Our vision for Project Ostiarius is to come alongside the Hispanic church and provide them with access to educational content and experiences that are innovative and relevant to their communities,” said Vice President for Innovation Michael Steiner, one of the principal investigators on the project.
In order to develop and teach courses that are culturally accurate, SEU will collaborate directly with its Carrion Hispanic Leadership Center, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) and the Association for Hispanic Theological Education (AETH).
The CBE learning format will allow the university to dramatically reduce the cost of instruction for courses in the program, in addition to the ability for content to be continually adjusted to remain socially, culturally, and theologically relevant.
SEU looks to launch the pilot program in the fall of 2023 and will be working on fully developing the program this year.
“We are truly so grateful for the generosity of Lilly Endowment and look forward to expanding our relationship with them as we build out and launch this program,” President Kent Ingle commented. “We are beyond excited to embark on this new journey over the next five years as we continue to create education that is both affordable and accessible for individuals of all backgrounds.”
Steiner emphasized, “We would not have been able to make it to this point without the incredible foundation that has been established through the SEU Network as well as the vision of Dr. Ingle and his heart for serving the local church.”