Yale Divinity School is expanding its international student exchange program to Asia, partnering with theological schools in Hong Kong and Singapore.
In addition to ongoing programs in Germany and England, YDS will now offer student exchange opportunities at the Divinity School of Chung Chi College in Hong Kong and Trinity Theological College in Singapore. The new programs will take place during the 2009-2010 academic year and will be open to Master of Arts in Religion and Master of Divinity students.
Dean Harold Attridge made the announcement in a Feb. 5 open letter to students, calling the new partnerships in Asia "a step toward a new and more dynamic program to engage the world."
Attridge and two colleagues visited the theological institutions in Asia during a week-long trip in January to Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Attridge had also visited partnering institutions in Germany during a trip in December and Westcott House in Cambridge in early 2008.
Anna Ramirez, associate dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, who accompanied Attridge on trips to Asia and Germany, said the new exchanges will begin on a one-semester basis but might grow to semester-plus-summer exchanges if some non-academic components are added to the programs, such as working with nonprofit agencies.
The two partnering theological institutions hold unique advantages.
The Divinity School of Chung Chi College, an affiliate of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is the only theological education institution operating within a Chinese public university. The faculty of the Divinity School is also part of Chinese University's Department of Culture and Religious Studies. Attendance at the school also positions students for opportunities for outside service work through ecumenical agencies such as the Amity Foundation and the Hong Kong Christian Council.
Trinity Theological College, which opened its doors in 1948 under the sponsorship of the Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian churches, operates two significant research centers. One is The Center for the Study of Christianity in Asia (CSCA), which provides a forum where Christians in Southeast Asia can collaborate in affirming their distinct Christian ethos and articulating their faith positions. The other, Center for the Development of Christian Ministry, aims to serve the Church by providing lay training programs, seminars, conferences and research on Bible, theology and ministry.
"As globalization evolves, patterns of communication, business and culture are being transformed; at the same time, in many parts of the world Christianity is taking on new forms and expressions," said Attridge. "At the Divinity School we are committed to assessing what it might mean for us to more fully 'engage the world' in the years ahead and to developing programs to better serve and prepare students."
Yale Divinity School is an interdenominational school of theological education that accepts an incoming class 140 students on average every year.
The school reported in recent weeks an unusual spike in applications as the economy slides into further recession.
"There are people who are seeking second careers, people who have lost their jobs, and people who were contemplating graduate degrees and then decide to pursue something meaningful like the Divinity School," Attridge told Yale Daily News.
Despite the rise in applications, from 485 last year to 550 this year, the class size at the Divinity School will remain steady, said Attridge.