Melding the theoretical and the practical

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Jane Kuepfer speaking at a podium

Combining academics and practice is vital to learning. Recognizing this, Professor Jane Kuepfer, Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging, integrates experiential learning in the classes that she teaches in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program at Conrad Grebel University College. “Academics is a way of processing what happens in daily life. Our interactions and service outside of the classroom are enriched as we strive to understand ourselves and others better through readings and discussion in class.”

Students in Jane’s MTS course “Aging & the Spiritual Life” meet with a person over the age of 70 a few times throughout the term and keep a journal about their experience. Students then write a reflection paper with the goal of seeing the world through the eyes of their “senior partner.” Students are also encouraged to reflect on the role and influence of spirituality on their senior partner’s daily life.

MTS student Sandy Conrad thoroughly enjoyed “Aging & the Spiritual Life.” “I have realized that there is nothing like the lived experience of people who work daily with the aging population. It was a necessary humbling! I have teaching and writing skills, but they are not useful if there is no understanding of what the needs and challenges are as people age.”

“Jane is a very gifted teacher and she created an atmosphere of warmth and trust,” Sandy continued. “Her experience and compassion is a wonderful guide, along with a wide and deep knowledge of the issues around aging.”

“My interests in church, ministry, and aging all grow out of my involvement in congregational life and long-term care,” Jane explained. Jane also teaches “Church & Ministry,” in which students explore their own calling, what it means to be a ministering person, and different understandings of church.

“I teach practical theology in order to support the church in the challenge of living our faith,” Jane noted. “Learning and living is a cyclical process.” 

Students in the MTS program at Grebel have the opportunity to tailor their degree to fit their specific interests and vocational goals, including ministry and further studies. The program offers three degree options: coursework, applied studies, and thesis.

by Katrina Steckle