Collective Learning and Cohorts- A new way to Mastering Divinity

“As the name implies, it is a collection of people, skills, and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts.”  In their book,  A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown take on the idea of learning in a ‘world of constant change’.

When I read this book, I often thought of the way the cohorts of Luther Seminary work together toward their Masters of Divinity.  We are spread out around the world, only coming together online in class or facebook or in person during our January and June intensives.  Although we each have cohorts, we are also one.  We belong to learn together, to pray together and to create community together.

It is amazing to read the description of the authors; they explain collective as having more of an ebb and flow, and in and out as needed.  The cohorts are the same in many ways.  We expand and retract based on who is there, who needs what and ability to provide.  It is quite fascinating.  Although any are missed when not in attendance, there is not a focus on who is not there, rather, it is a completeness with who is, regardless of cohort.  It is also interesting to watch the cohorts ‘take over’ a classroom- being an overwhelming majority of the class at one time.  They do not exclude the residential’s, rather, they are pulled into the group as one of us.

When it comes to learning, this creates a fluid dynamic that is stunning to observe.  The experiences are so varied, the ages, gender, lifestyle, and style of learning cover a broad spectrum and it seems we never know what will come of it. The dynamic even flows over into the online courses, creating living, breathing, exciting small groups and friendships that flow over from classes every semester.

Some might argue that this style of learning is too inconsistent, to impartial and too distanced to really work and form a future pastor fully.  I would have to say, having lived it for over 2 years now, that could not be further from the truth.  I have learned far more in a passionate and relational way than in any other courses, degree programs, or campus I have ever attended.  This is most definitely one valid way into the future for those seeking a Master of Divinity, and now, we have a ranking as one of 13 top seminaries changing the world to prove it!

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