SFTS & GTU Courses

Teaching patterns of faith which nurture justice and peace.



Apply Here

SFTS & GTU Courses

Teaching patterns of faith which nurture justice and peace.



Apply Here

Intellectually challenging and rich in resources, the SFTS/GTU consortium has the largest interfaith faculty in one location in the United States.

Here you will find a wide variety of courses available to our current Master’s students, and there are hundreds more in the SFTS/GTU Course Catalog.  The GTU provides students with the opportunity for intensive academic study of many religious traditions including forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and Judaism, as well as interdisciplinary topics such as art and religion or theology and science. Here, honest exchanges arise, world views expand, understanding deepens.

If you are interested in taking classes for credit at SFTS without earning a degree, you may take any Graduate Theological Union Masters course for which you qualify as a Non-Degree Student. The only document required is a copy of your undergraduate transcript which shows the awarding of your baccalaureate degree.
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Critical Self Reflection


The heart of spiritual care is relationship. In order to effectively employ an incarnational approach to spiritual care, we must become more aware of our personal, family, spiritual, and theological background; and how these dynamics influence the quality of care we provide for others. We will view the family system as an interactive system, with a complex mix of actions, perceptions and expectations influencing relationships. Students will gain insight into self and others, while employing a disciplined way to approach the Holy Mystery that binds our lives together. Students will learn to make spiritual assessments, gain self-awareness, and increase their awareness of how their care is experienced by others. Students will leave this course with a deeper appreciation and better understanding of grief as an individual, family, social and cultural phenomenon.

Critical Theological Reflection will use the “teaching case” method. The purpose of the “teaching case” is to establish a framework for theological reflection among students. This method is used to increase student’s knowledge and assist student’s integration of individual, group, organizational, social, political, spiritual, physical, psychological, and theological dynamics in care-giving contexts. The “teaching case” method allows students to reflect upon data collected from care encounters. The learning process includes a recollected reconstruction of the interchange between the student as care-provider and a care-recipient/seeker, as well as a structured theological reflection upon that interchange. This approach is used for clarification of care encounters, greater self-understanding, shared learning among class participants; as well as increased care competence and skill, contextualization of caring encounters, and theological reflection upon human situations. Students will also develop consultation skills for providing critical feedback, and bridge the gap between theological reflection and care practice.

Critical Theological Reflection


Intro to Christian Education


This foundational course in Christian Education explores five themes: the who, what, why, where, and how of Religious Education. We will attend to the plural cultures of the ecumenical and interreligious world, which form the present context within which Christian faith must be formed and nurtured. Using approaches that integrate theory, practice and critical reflection within the course’s pedagogy and philosophy of education, students will be enabled to foster the same capacities for critically-reflective and committed Christian praxis for persons of all ages, and within particular contexts.
Pastoral care is a communal art that is foundational to the role of the pastor and work of the church. Pastoral care is about the healing, guiding, sustaining, nurturing, liberating, empowering and reconciling of persons, families, communities, nations and self. Pastoral care is an expression of human concern through activities. Pastoral care recognizes transcendence, is motivated by love, and aims at preventing distress, where possible, and fostering human wellbeing, growth and the fulfillment of the potential of individuals and communities. This introductory course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts, dynamics, issues and skills necessary for effective spiritual care.

Intro to Pastoral Care and Counseling


Cultivating Compassionate Leaders


Leaders today need to build healthy, caring teams, manage and develop the gifts and proficiencies of professional and volunteer work forces, and handle the intersection of responsibility, authority and accountability in carrying out your duties. Leaders in religious and secular institutions stand at the crossroads of how things get done. How can leaders so this with grace, integrity and with the well-being of others in mind? This course examines practices that actively promote leaders' self-awareness, social skill, and emotional intelligence as the most efficient path to developing a more conscious workforce and compassionate leadership style.
Pastoral care is often focused on individual or congregational problems, but much of what harms and impedes us as social, political and spiritual beings stems from the larger structural maladies at work in our lives. This course examines the social and spiritual structures of homelessness, incarceration and mental health challenges within our lives, church, workforce, government and society. Together, we will broaden and deepen caregivers' knowledge and skills needed to respond effectively to oppressed and marginalized persons, and structures of oppression. The course helps leaders reflect on the ways their own social location impacts their caring service and gain familiarity with resources and processes available to support compassionate leadership and spiritual care in these contexts.

Dismantling Structures of Oppression in Pastoral Care


The Resilient Practitioner


Trauma Spiritual Care is provided under unique pressures: extreme uncertainty, fear/anxiety, real threat, complexity, time sensitive, political pressure, and public scrutiny in a high consequence environment. Preparing trauma care leaders for this challenge has focused on analytical knowledge and technical care-giving skills. Yet, researchers most frequently list dimensions of emotional intelligence (EQ) as crucial for the resiliency and care competency for practitioners in helping professions. Broad, critical competencies for trauma care leaders are self-awareness, self-management and impulse control, empathy and the ability to attune to others, flexibility, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving, and the ability to engage and inspire others. The importance of these competencies is not acknowledged in many public safety circles, religious communities, or learning/training contexts, although some of the competency subsets are addressed.

This course applies principles and practices of transformative learning to foster EQ growth. Participants are given time for implicit learning to occur, space for self-reflection and questioning one’s own assumptions, and sustain the caring self. Once this learning is integrated into one’s person and practice, trauma spiritual care leaders are better equipped to engage traumatic situations, recognize traumatized people, and constantly invest in personal renewal processes that support balanced caring and resiliency.

Spiritual Care practice is enhanced when care providers function out of a consistent and coherent theoretical base. This class is intended to enhance the theoretical basis of care practices, and its application in spiritual care. Students will learn how families, groups and organizations function, how to most optimally use group processes, and how they function within groups. The purpose is to afford students the opportunity to grow in their capacity to observe how they and others function within families, groups, and organizations, and how to develop and maintain meaningful connections within group structures. The goal is to understand the factors that undermine as well as contribute to building a healthy community.

Organizational Structures, Groups Processes, Family Dynamics


Chaplaincy Board Certification Preparation


The Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) training process can be a long and rewarding journey.  In order to receive this accreditation, prospects must display their qualifications and ability to fully engage as a professional chaplain in 31 national competencies.  Our Chaplaincy Board Certification preparation will include:

  • Integration and synthetization of one’s professional clinical spiritual education by focusing on the national competencies of major certifying bodies and the training they have received
  • Becoming familiar with all spiritual care competencies needed for board certification
  • Organizing and writing one’s certification materials

Critical Self Reflection


The heart of spiritual care is relationship. In order to effectively employ an incarnational approach to spiritual care, we must become more aware of our personal, family, spiritual, and theological background; and how these dynamics influence the quality of care we provide for others. We will view the family system as an interactive system, with a complex mix of actions, perceptions and expectations influencing relationships. Students will gain insight into self and others, while employing a disciplined way to approach the Holy Mystery that binds our lives together. Students will learn to make spiritual assessments, gain self-awareness, and increase their awareness of how their care is experienced by others. Students will leave this course with a deeper appreciation and better understanding of grief as an individual, family, social and cultural phenomenon.

Critical Theological Reflection


Critical Theological Reflection will use the “teaching case” method. The purpose of the “teaching case” is to establish a framework for theological reflection among students. This method is used to increase student’s knowledge and assist student’s integration of individual, group, organizational, social, political, spiritual, physical, psychological, and theological dynamics in care-giving contexts. The “teaching case” method allows students to reflect upon data collected from care encounters. The learning process includes a recollected reconstruction of the interchange between the student as care-provider and a care-recipient/seeker, as well as a structured theological reflection upon that interchange. This approach is used for clarification of care encounters, greater self-understanding, shared learning among class participants; as well as increased care competence and skill, contextualization of caring encounters, and theological reflection upon human situations. Students will also develop consultation skills for providing critical feedback, and bridge the gap between theological reflection and care practice.

Intro to Christian Education


This foundational course in Christian Education explores five themes: the who, what, why, where, and how of Religious Education. We will attend to the plural cultures of the ecumenical and interreligious world, which form the present context within which Christian faith must be formed and nurtured. Using approaches that integrate theory, practice and critical reflection within the course’s pedagogy and philosophy of education, students will be enabled to foster the same capacities for critically-reflective and committed Christian praxis for persons of all ages, and within particular contexts.

Intro to Pastoral Care and Counseling


Pastoral care is a communal art that is foundational to the role of the pastor and work of the church. Pastoral care is about the healing, guiding, sustaining, nurturing, liberating, empowering and reconciling of persons, families, communities, nations and self. Pastoral care is an expression of human concern through activities. Pastoral care recognizes transcendence, is motivated by love, and aims at preventing distress, where possible, and fostering human wellbeing, growth and the fulfillment of the potential of individuals and communities. This introductory course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts, dynamics, issues and skills necessary for effective spiritual care.

Cultivating Compassionate Leaders


Leaders today need to build healthy, caring teams, manage and develop the gifts and proficiencies of professional and volunteer work forces, and handle the intersection of responsibility, authority and accountability in carrying out your duties. Leaders in religious and secular institutions stand at the crossroads of how things get done. How can leaders so this with grace, integrity and with the well-being of others in mind? This course examines practices that actively promote leaders' self-awareness, social skill, and emotional intelligence as the most efficient path to developing a more conscious workforce and compassionate leadership style.

Dismantling Structures of Oppression in Pastoral Care


Pastoral care is often focused on individual or congregational problems, but much of what harms and impedes us as social, political and spiritual beings stems from the larger structural maladies at work in our lives. This course examines the social and spiritual structures of homelessness, incarceration and mental health challenges within our lives, church, workforce, government and society. Together, we will broaden and deepen caregivers' knowledge and skills needed to respond effectively to oppressed and marginalized persons, and structures of oppression. The course helps leaders reflect on the ways their own social location impacts their caring service and gain familiarity with resources and processes available to support compassionate leadership and spiritual care in these contexts.

The Resilient Practitioner


Trauma Spiritual Care is provided under unique pressures: extreme uncertainty, fear/anxiety, real threat, complexity, time sensitive, political pressure, and public scrutiny in a high consequence environment. Preparing trauma care leaders for this challenge has focused on analytical knowledge and technical care-giving skills. Yet, researchers most frequently list dimensions of emotional intelligence (EQ) as crucial for the resiliency and care competency for practitioners in helping professions. Broad, critical competencies for trauma care leaders are self-awareness, self-management and impulse control, empathy and the ability to attune to others, flexibility, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving, and the ability to engage and inspire others. The importance of these competencies is not acknowledged in many public safety circles, religious communities, or learning/training contexts, although some of the competency subsets are addressed.

This course applies principles and practices of transformative learning to foster EQ growth. Participants are given time for implicit learning to occur, space for self-reflection and questioning one’s own assumptions, and sustain the caring self. Once this learning is integrated into one’s person and practice, trauma spiritual care leaders are better equipped to engage traumatic situations, recognize traumatized people, and constantly invest in personal renewal processes that support balanced caring and resiliency.

Organizational Structures, Groups Processes, Family Dynamics


Spiritual Care practice is enhanced when care providers function out of a consistent and coherent theoretical base. This class is intended to enhance the theoretical basis of care practices, and its application in spiritual care. Students will learn how families, groups and organizations function, how to most optimally use group processes, and how they function within groups. The purpose is to afford students the opportunity to grow in their capacity to observe how they and others function within families, groups, and organizations, and how to develop and maintain meaningful connections within group structures. The goal is to understand the factors that undermine as well as contribute to building a healthy community.

Chaplaincy Board Certification Preparation


The Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) training process can be a long and rewarding journey.  In order to receive this accreditation, prospects must display their qualifications and ability to fully engage as a professional chaplain in 31 national competencies.  Our Chaplaincy Board Certification preparation will include:

  • Integration and synthetization of one’s professional clinical spiritual education by focusing on the national competencies of major certifying bodies and the training they have received
  • Becoming familiar with all spiritual care competencies needed for board certification
  • Organizing and writing one’s certification materials

Let's have a conversation


In this world poised for healing, do you feel called to bring compassionate presence to others? Get in touch with your questions, and I’ll be very happy to help you explore ways in which the Shaw Chaplaincy Institute is able to help you bring your whole self into service.

- Rev. Paul Gaffney,
ACPE Certified Educator Candidate, Shaw Chaplaincy Institute Program Manager


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