Associate Professor of Ministry Development, and Director, Doctor of Ministry Program
B.A., M.A., Cambridge University
M.Div., Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Ph.D., Boston College
Susanna Singer is a native of England, and has lived happily in the USA for 32 years. She studied English Literature at the University of Cambridge, and earned her M.Div. at CDSP. After ordination she served as Canon Liturgist and Educator at Grace Cathedral, and Diocesan Education Coordinator for the Diocese of California, then earned a PhD in Theology and Education at Boston College. She has taught at CDSP since Fall 2005.
I believe that one of the most critical issues faced by people of faith today concerns the development of robust Christian identity, strong roots in vibrant communities of faith, and the capacity to act reflectively and effectively in the world in the service of God's Reign. All these things have to happen in a context of immense cultural and religious diversity, where everything – including religious commitment – is a choice. The extremes of closed-minded rigidity or laissez-faire openness are not valid options in this context. Instead, people of faith need to cultivate deeply grounded Christian commitment coupled with openness to diversity – a daunting task. I bring theoretical frameworks and effective techniques from the fields of practical theology, transformative learning, cognitive-developmental theory, critically reflective teaching, and imagination in order to help students meet this exciting challenge.
The second focus of my teaching and scholarship is ministry development. The baptismal theology of the Episcopal Church compels me to enable students to empower the ministries of all, and to imagine new ecclesial structures that enable the church to turn towards the world, offering the Gospel to a changing world in fresh, inviting ways. The best current thinking in organizational development, leadership, systems theory, and change management informs my teaching in this area.
My teaching style is participatory, experiential and student-centered. All my classes include active learning – role-playing, group projects and practical design exercises – in order to ground students' learning in the world of ministry. My goal is that students will become empowered, critically reflective, collaborative theological practitioners.
- Basic Courses
- Postmodern Christian Education
- Issues in Ministry
- Doctor of Ministry Seminar
- Typical Elective Courses
- The Art and Craft of Teaching
- Children's Spirituality
- Adults as Practical Theologians
- Qualitative Research Methods
Recent Presentations, Seminars and Retreats
- "The World is Charged With the Grandeur of God: The Parables of Jesus, the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Life of Faith" Retreat for the Associates of the Order of the Transfiguration, September 2013 GTU Colloquium on Best Practices in Online Teaching, August 2013
- "Signs for the World: Engaging Sacramental Theology and Practice" Lay Leadership Day and Clergy Conference, Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, June 2013
- "In the Sure and Certain Hope... Hope as a Theological Virtue in Changing Times," Keynote theological to the Gathering of Leaders, March 2012.
- "Christian Formation for Discipleship and Leadership," Keynote speaker and conference leader, Diocesan Clergy Conference, Diocese of Northern California February 2011
- Divinity Students and Certificate Students: I offer two basic required courses annually for Masters level students: Postmodern Christian Education is a foundational course that focuses on religious identity-formation in the cultural context of secular pluralism. Issues in Ministry serves as the integrative capstone course for the CDSP M.Div. program and is also frequently taken by students in the Certificate of Anglican Studies program. It covers the changing theology and practice of ministry, leadership and management in a context of rapid change, and the personal and psychological dimensions of ministry.
- Master of Arts Students: I work with M.A. students in the Religion and Social Theory Area, particularly on topics related to religious identity-formation and human development, which was the focus of my doctoral work and remains one of my academic passions. I also work with students exploring topics related to the church's mission and ministry, and the intersection of spirituality and Christian Education.
- Doctor of Ministry Students: I direct CDSP's two D.Min. programs. I advise D.Min. students in the areas of ministry development, and the intersection of Christian Education and the church's mission and ministry. I teach the research methods and thesis writing seminars required by both programs.
- Doctor of Philosophy Students: I am not a member of the GTU Core Doctoral Faculty, but I am an active participant in the Interdisciplinary Studies Area of the GTU. I particularly enjoy working on research methodology with PhD students who wish to incorporate field research into their dissertations.
Speaker's Bureau Topics
- Christian identity in a pluralistic, postmodern cultural context
- Christian education and formation in congregations (holistic approaches)
- Christian parenting and faith formation in households
- Christian education for adults
- The Catechumenate
- New models of ministry and leadership and change management
- Ministry development
- Spirituality, vocation and personal identity
Some Less Obvious Things About Me
- I have been a practicing spiritual director for more than 20 years.
- Outside the classroom, I love cooking (and eating!) local food, gardening, classical music, and international travel.
- For the past 15 years I have been a serious student of Jungian psychology and its relationship to spirituality, culture, and organizational theory.
- I participate enthusiastically in national church groups on Christian Education and Total/Mutual/Local Ministry Development.
- I stay current with the worlds of science and technology through vicarious participation in my husband's extensive reading in these areas.
Favorites/Book Obsessions/Currently Reading
- Book Obsessions
- The dense, difficult writing of Wolfgang Giegerich: a contemporary post-Jungian thinker writing about the psychological dimensions of history, culture and society. Sociology of religion, religion and culture, leadership and change. Finding time to read the NY Times every day, as well as keep up with various blogs and journals, not to mention Facebook!
- Currently Reading
- Hugh Heclo On Thinking Institutionally
- Stephen Brookfield The Power of Critical Theory
- Richard Kearney Anatheism: Returning to God After God
- Kevin Kelley What Technology Wants