Institutional Commitment to Multiculturalism and Diversity
“Princeton Theological Seminary’s vision is to be attentive to the calling of Jesus Christ today, maintaining integrity with our past while ever listening and reaching out to a changing church and world. . .Our vision is to be a community of hospitality and dynamism, learning and transformation. . .We seek to combine a deepening evaluation of diversity with the ability to maintain a coherent ethos within the trajectory of the Reformed tradition. . .We seek to form leaders who will be fluent, courageous spokespeople capable of being both insiders and outsiders. . .We seek collaborations with congregations and partner institutions in strategic places across the world where conversations between different churches and among people of different faith traditions are vital. . .We seek constantly to welcome diverse constituencies to the campus, to encourage openness and dialogue.” —PTS Strategic Plan
Princeton Theological Seminary is committed to rigorous theological inquiry that demands multiple perspectives. The nature of the questions being asked and the perspectives being engaged are often a function of the diversity of experiences and outlooks of those participating.
Multiculturalism has been a reality at Princeton Theological Seminary since the Seminary’s beginning in 1812, with students of diverse races and ethnicities, and students from abroad, represented in the early student bodies. Today, approximately 210 Asian, African American, Hispanic, Native American, and international students represent more than one-fourth of the Seminary’s student body. The commitment to understanding and affirming multicultural perspectives has grown over the years, and most recently through documents on racial justice and diversity presented in 1998 and 2005 after much study and discussion in the Seminary community. In July 2007, the Seminary initiated the new Office of Multicultural Relations.
From the Seminary’s beginning to the turn of the twenty-first century, there have been students from many cultural perspectives in each graduating class. The Seminary’s alumni/ae mirror the diversity of the student body, with today approximately 460 African American, 90 Hispanic, 570 Asian/Pacific Islander, and 12 American Indian/Native American alumni/ae. The Seminary also has more than 900 international alumni/ae throughout the world, spanning from our neighbors in Ontario, to the warmth of Africa, Argentina, and Brazil, to the cold glacial lands of Iceland. They also reach to the vast continent of Asia, and even across the world to Australia.
Princeton Theological Seminary is a national and international theological institution committed to promoting a critical awareness and understanding of regional, national, and global diversity issues in light of our Reformed tradition. We seek to live out our strategic plan by creating institution-wide diversity and multicultural initiatives that will enrich the lives of our students, faculty, and staff by providing a climate of understanding and appreciation of the full range of human experience in order to foster a more inclusive community. As such Princeton Theological Seminary will continue to demonstrate its recognition of, and will demonstrate its commitment to, the educational benefits of domestic and global diversity. Educational diversity benefits individuals, institutions, the church, the private and public sector, and society. We will foster systemic change that proactively seeks ongoing development of a diverse student body, a diverse curriculum, and a diverse faculty, staff, and administration.
Perspectives on Institutional Diversity
Institutional diversity can be understood from different perspectives, including theology, ecclesiology, missiology, education, law, and pedagogy. Below are some examples of how the Office of Multicultural Relations can assist the Seminary in its mission and witness for God in an ever-changing society.
The biblical witness teaches that all races, ethnicities, and nationalities were created from one human being; thus diversity among human beings is an aspect of God’s creative work and glorifies God.
- The Acts 2 narrative teaches us that the work of the Holy Spirit involves reconciliation among various people groups in word and in action.
- A “Pentecost ecology” recognizes the potential of creating a new kind of cross-cultural learning community in which everyone has a voice and everyone matters, everyone teaches and everyone learns. This “Pentecost Ecology” does not accept that simply bringing diverse populations to our campus is sufficient. Diversity is not enough. The deeper challenge is to help people see themselves in relation to one another as they understand faith, discern their call to ministry, and engage a dynamic curriculum.
- The New Testament doctrine of the Body of Christ simultaneously includes unity and diversity, thereby affirming the distinctions which exist among the members of Christ’s body.
Ecclesialogical and Missiological Perspectives
The Church’s mission involves the preaching of the gospel to all nations, thus
validating each culture as a legitimate means to hear and receive the gospel of Christ.
- The growth of minority populations within the Seminary provides an opportunity to reach new people groups through the witness of the gospel and through the preparation of ministers who will serve in multicultural settings in a constantly changing society.
- The New Testament doctrine of the Body of Christ rejects separatism in favor of mutuality and interrelatedness.
- The Church’s witness is lived out by the love it exhibits to individuals of different backgrounds.
Seminary students and the Seminary community will learn to broaden their worldview, develop increased capacities for compassion, understanding, and empathy, and appreciate the variety within God’s creative work.
- All students will refine their analytical abilities through engagement with various worldviews, cultures, and religious traditions.
- Students will develop the ability to diffuse, mediate, or resolve conflicts which typically result from diverse perspectives on Christian doctrines.
- The Seminary community will collectively generate more creative and thoughtful approaches to problem-solving and reconciliation.
- A diverse student body is an important educational resource that enhances the learning environment.
Student experience will be enriched from exposure to faculty members of diverse backgrounds.
- Expansion of the curriculum will include theologians and resources outside of “normative” materials.
- Faculty may improve upon the breadth and depth of its scholarship through interaction with students of diverse backgrounds.
The biblical witness requires Christians—and by extension Christian institutions—to be subject to the laws of the land in which they reside or exist.
- The Seminary moves forward in complying with federal and state regulations related to diversity at every level of the institution’s infrastructure.