From volunteer opportunities to participating in clubs, there are plenty of ways for students to expand upon their classroom learning.
Theta Alpha Kappa is the only national honor society dedicated to recognizing academic excellence in students and in scholars in the fields of Religious Studies and Theology. Theta Alpha Kappa has more than 200 chapters nationally in four-year educational institutions ranging from small religiously affiliated colleges to large public research institutions. The Alpha Alpa Zeta chapter was installed at Dominican in 1983.
To be eligible for membership, students must have a 3.5 GPA in Religious Studies and/or Theology and a 3.0 GPA overall. New members are inducted each spring.
Theta Alpha Kappa offers a national program of scholarship awards and fellowship competitions. The Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa offers an annual prize and the publication of outstanding student papers.
Theta Alpha Kappa is an affiliated society of the American Academy of Religion, a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and a member of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion.
The department strongly encourages all theology and pastoral ministry majors to incorporate service learning into their course of study.
Several departmental courses are specifically designed as service learning courses. One popular option is Native American Ceremony and Ritual. Each May, at the conclusion of the spring semester, Prof. Kathy Heskin travels with students to one or more Native American reservations for two weeks.
The group observes selected ceremonies firsthand and, even more importantly, arrives prepared to serve. Students sit in sweat lodges, pray and talk with everyone from tribal elders to children, and pitch in wherever help is needed on the reservation.
Each year’s class completes a project suited to their hosts’ needs. For example, diabetes is extremely common among Native Americans, so one year the class prepared a cookbook with diabetic-friendly recipes, then distributed copies once they arrived on the reservation. Alcoholism and gambling have also been relevant topics.
But any theology or pastoral ministry course can have a service learning component. Students may arrange with the instructor to spend 30 hours of service during the semester at an approved social services site.
Through reflection papers, a journal or some other agreed-upon means, students relate their service experience to classroom learning. Upon successful completion of the course and its service learning component, the student receives one additional credit hour.
Dominican’s Theology Club is currently in a period of growth and revitalization. The club enjoys bringing outstanding speakers to campus.
One highlight was when Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago spoke on campus to a packed audience for a no-holds-barred hour during the height of the priest sex-abuse scandal.
The club’s officers for the 2012-2013 school year are:
Chellie Britt, President
Serek Hahn, Vice-President
Pamela Wolff, Secretary
Jessie McDaniel, Treasurer
Megan Graves, Publicity Officer
For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
All pastoral ministry majors must complete an internship to graduate.
The internship, which must earn at least three credit hours, will be designed in consultation with each student’s advisor.
The internship may bring the student to a parish, diocese, archdiocese or other agency such as a hospital, nursing home or hospice. The faculty supervisor and internship site coordinator communicate regularly to ensure the experience benefits the student as expected.
The pastoral ministry minor and the theology major and minor do not require internships.
“We love to have our qualified students study abroad and encourage them to investigate their curricular and financial aid options. In most cases, they’re surprised to find they can make it happen.”
Juniors enrolled in Dominican’s honors program have a special opportunity to study abroad at Blackfriars, Oxford for a year. Blackfriars Hall is run by Dominican friars within England’s famed Oxford University system.
Students participate in the traditional Oxbridge tutorial system. This means each student meets one-on-one with his tutor twice a week to discuss personalized reading and writing assignments.
Topics for tutorial projects are diverse and include:
- English literature
- British History
- Classics in translation
Students can also enroll in relevant language classes like Latin, New Testament Greek and Biblical Hebrew.
Senior Integrating Seminar
“We try to create a joyous, celebratory atmosphere for the thesis presentations. As a result, this is always the highlight of each academic year.”
Each theology major must complete the Theology Senior Integrating Seminar Theo 485 to graduate. The seminar helps students synthesize all that they have learned in four years of theology study.
The seminar has three components:
- The seminar itself – When there are enough graduating majors to create a class, regular meetings with peers and a faculty member provide both intellectual growth and emotional support.
- A written project – This can be either a research paper or a portfolio. Students will discuss this with their advisors.
- A formal presentation – Each student will present his research or portfolio to the theology department, fellow theology students, recent graduates and their families.
The pastoral ministry major does not have a thesis/seminar requirement.