The purpose of The Seattle School Gender Initiative is to acknowledge our need as individuals and as an educational institution for an increased, critical, enculturated engagement of gender in the curriculum, policies, and community of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology.
Gender is entwined into the way we understand sacred, academic, cultural, and personal Texts; it is an essential category of how we view Soul both theologically and psychologically; and it is a deeply and complexly enculturated concept that we must wrestle with purposefully as we seek to increase our Cultural and Intercultural Credibility. With this Initiative, we recognize and appeal to one another that our bodies matter. The particularities of our gendered selves form and inform identity development, relational dynamics, and access to money, education, and positions of influence in USAmerica. We acknowledge that conversations engaging gender must also include critical engagement of race, class, ability, sexual orientation, age, and other cultural identity categories.
As current students, spouses, alumni, staff, faculty, administration, and the Board of Trustees, our shared mission is to train therapists, pastors, artists, and leaders in the study of culture, soul, and text in order to serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships. We believe that who we are deeply matters to the work that we do. Our praxis-oriented, transformational education invites students to wrestle with their own stories as they metabolize theory and gain new skills. We are a people who hope to be and to become increasingly aware, empathic, respectful, thoughtful, caring, mutual, and curious. What a gorgeous and dynamic, common and fertile ground we are growing in and toward together.
As we grow as an institution and continue to live into our mission, we recognize that we must continually reflect on and own our biases as individuals and as an institution in order to be responsible and credible educators and practitioners. We believe that no one person or people group’s experiences or body of knowledge is normative, and our education must reflect this by integrating a diversity of voices.
We recognize diversity as part of the glory of humanity being made in God’s image. Our diversity is found in the very nature of God, who is both trinitarian and unified, finding unity within difference. Our God is loving and relational in the midst of difference, and our human diversity is not the design of opposition, but of encounter and dialogue in loving relationship. Just as the persons of the Trinity share a common nature of divinity, all human beings in their particularity share a good and common human nature. We remember that this God formed us from the dust, that God in Her infinite wisdom created us to be embodied creatures, and that the forms of these bodies matter.
We confess that systemic and internalized oppressions including patriarchy and racism use the particularities of our human bodies against ourselves and one another. As members of our Christian and USAmerican culture, with a history of oppression, we confess that we are complicit with and co-creators of systems of patriarchy, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, and heterosexism. These systems privilege few, usually white men, but systemic oppression harms us all. Because of the pervasive nature of internalized oppressions, this work will be personal, and we must be intentional, conscious, concrete, and systematic in our engagement of it. We must do this work on purpose.
Our increasing individual and communal awareness of the dynamics of the systems of oppression is a crucial part of becoming credible educators, practitioners, and members of our local communities, as well as responsible and loving human beings. Movement toward change will manifest in confession, grief, and repentance, unto freedom, reconciliation, and a deepening of relationship. This is our hope.
With curiosity as an operational value cultivated at The Seattle School, we believe that it is necessary to equip ourselves with critical tools to guide our curiosity so that our work with individuals and communities honors the fullness and diversity of humanity. Developing inclusive and critical frameworks to engage all persons is integral to our mission of loving God and neighbor through transforming relationships.
As people invested in the good work of the The Seattle School, we appeal to one another to prioritize the critical engagement of gender in the curriculum, policies, and community at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. Thereby we make the following recommendations:
We recommend that Dr. Keith Anderson, President and Dr. Derek McNeil, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Academic Dean consider the following movements:
- A Faculty Curriculum Review with a Critical Social Lens:
- Consider and acknowledge the voices that inform the body of knowledge taught in the 2012 Course Curriculum.
- Include an equitable representation of diverse voices in the 2013 Course Curriculum, including voices of persons traditionally marginalized on the basis of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, age, and ability.
- Build into syllabi the expectation that students include a multiplicity of voices in research and thought in assignments.
- Require students to use gender inclusive language in papers and encourage gender inclusive language in reference to God.
- Implement the following courses:
- Gender Identity Development
- Gender Identity Development explores gender theory with particular attention to and analysis of social constructs. The class would consider the intersectionality of various constructs in diverse cultural settings, namely gender as it relates to race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality.
- Critical Social Theory
- Critical Social Theory is a multidisciplinary framework for considering how to educate for cultural transformation, highlighting the relationship between social systems and people. Critical Social Theory considers the formation of what knowledge is and is not, with particular attention to knowledges that are marginalized.1
- Systems Theory
- Systems Theory is a multidisciplinary, theoretical, and methodological practice which views systems (family, church, education, etc) as a result of a dynamic interrelationship between its component parts and the whole. Systems theory is helpful for practitioners to understand how individuals are both recipients of and complicit with their personal situations, as well as how these situations affect the people in them.
- Implement ongoing training and education for all instructional staff as they lead The Seattle School into increasingly equitable engagement of culture, soul, and text.
We recommend that the Intercultural Credibility Team consider the following movement:
- Incorporate gender equity as an essential category for our work of Intercultural Credibility, understanding that gender is a socially constructed concept that varies across cultures and is crucial to our communal engagement with culture, difference, racism, and reconciliation.
We recognize that movement toward equity is dependent on both systemic and personal change. As persons in this community, we call ourselves and one another to engage our own participation in systems of oppression through confession and repentance in relationship. Because faithful engagement with personhood will call us to actions as complex as our humanity, we will pursue hospitable dialogue in our practice of loving God and neighbor.
By signing The Seattle School Gender Initiative, we appeal to one another and commit ourselves to these actions in our pursuit of the embodiment of our mission to [be and] train people who are competent in the study of culture, soul, and text in order to serve God and neighbor in transforming relationships.
1 Kimberly George, http://www.kimberlybgeorge.com/the-school/ accessed on 6.3.12.