Environmental Scan

  Environmental Scan of Strengths of Emmanuel College

and Trends Affecting Theological Education


Task Group on Strategic Planning

March 11, 2010

*also available in PDF


Strengths of Emmanuel College

·Significant heritage of connection with the United Church of Canada, known for its ecumenical stance and its commitment to social justice

·A solid base for scholarships and bursaries, contributed over the years by congregations and individuals associated with the United Church of Canada (over 11 million dollars of endowment) to support both BD and AD students, including the development of new financial packages for doctoral students that compete with the best schools in North America (see Rec. 4)

·Strong and engaged faculty with high morale, dedicated to theological education and the preparation of leadership for both church and world, and active as church leaders and published scholars in their own fields and within the academy

·Small, but highly efficient, knowledgeable, and effective staff

·Students who value their courses, work hard to establish community life in spite of commuting lifestyles, and believe in the importance of their academic preparation

·A dedicated cadre of Alumni/ae who view the College positively and participate regularly in its life

·Highly regarded degree programs, including both a newly designed curriculum for the MDiv program and a new Master of Sacred Music program that is attracting new students to EC and is off to a great start

·Excellent research and library resources between EC, the TST Colleges, and Robarts Library

·Ecumenical context within the TST, and faculty resources within the TST helps to extend educational opportunities for EC students

·Beautiful building, though it continues to need maintenance and renovation in external and internal infrastructure, and in both spaces and furnishings

·A small but effective Continuing Education program (and cooperation with several other programs like the University of Toronto chaplains, the InterChurch Health Ministries program, various United Church of Canada programs, and the Centre for Clergy Care and Congregational Health)

·The financial health and support of Victoria University

·The connection to the University of Toronto and its reputation as an excellent Research University

·A small amount of funds on an annual basis related to Academic initiatives that enable support for faculty research, travel, and lectures that enhance both the intellectual life of the college and bridging of the relationship between church and academy

·A strong visiting scholars program and the consistent ability to attract strong visiting lecturers from across North America

Contextual Trends Affecting Emmanuel College


Global Realities

·A global context that seems to support vast discrepancies (1) in access to health care, education, a living wage, food, and clean water; and (2) in the power of ownership and consumption of the world’s resources

·A newly dynamic interaction across the globe due to technology and rapid-fire communication (shrinking of the world – W. H. Auden: “We must love one another or die”), large and developing societies in the global south, and transnational economic entanglements and opportunities that challenge traditional national sovereignties

·A global economic crisis where the contributions and inherent difficulties associated with such things as capitalism, democracy, socialism, and other such commitments are yet to sort themselves out

·Global changes in the nature of Christianity and in its centre highlight the importance of taking more seriously the global context of Christianity: (1) the tremendous expansion of numbers of Christians in the global south (largely Pentecostal and/or evangelical, with vast numbers located in Latin America, Africa, and Asia) and decline of numbers of Christians in the global north (Europe and North America); and (2) conflict within Christianity about what it means to be human (especially in areas relating to sexuality and gender) and in the relationships between faith, economic systems, science, and basic matters pertaining to ecology and environment

·Global religious conflict and misunderstanding highlight the importance of taking more seriously the global context of religion in all its expressions

·A so-called “global war on terrorism,” within which misunderstandings of religion and the meaning of religious commitments are often in play

·Growing global dependence on technology and mechanistic means of sustaining life, including new developments in bioethics and scientific engineering that affect the quality of human life without much reference to theological or religious understandings of the world or the importance of human communities


Canadian and Cultural Realities

·Cultural tendencies that often seek to privatize religion, making religion an individual matter that contains no relevance for community or the common good - growing belief in the irrelevance of church and theological education in the culture; a culture disengaged from religion (“culture of disbelief”)

·Culture of “salvation by successing” – one saves oneself through development of wealth, personal prestige, reaching the pinnacle of a profession, etc.

·Cultural values that depend on technology as a “legitimating myth”: the influence of technology is increasing in the competition for scarce resources; and there is a developing tension between technological commitments, with their accompanying mechanical values (efficiency, practicality, speed and spectacle, “bigger bang for the buck”), and the ethical aspirations toward human freedom, economic justice, personal independence, the enhancement of human dignity, and the well-being of creation.

·A postmodernist context that makes relativism or nihilism seem particularly attractive to many, but that also lifts up the role communities play in the formation of individuals and the need for dialogue between those who differ in their perceptions of, and justifications defending , what they believe to be true: this can create an increase in appreciation for diversity and pluralism

·Educational tendencies that emphasize “outcomes” with a concentration on facts or quantitative (as opposed to qualitative) kinds of aims, often separate learning from how it can or should contribute to the development of better human communities (where concerns with justice and ethical practices are valued)

·A cultural decline in the prestige and prominence of ministry as a vocation, accompanied by a developing form of popular spirituality (the “religiously unaffiliated”) that is both “anti-institutional” and distinct from “organized religion” in mindset

·Anti-intellectualism in culture (and also in church) that often carries an accompanying belief in some corners of cultural life that emphasis on “academic excellence” is a synonym for an effort to privilege “white male” perspectives

·16% of the population of Canada in 2006 consisted of “visible minorities.” By 2031, Statistics Canada estimates that 31% of Canada’s population will consist of “visible minorities,” while Toronto is expected to surpass the 50% mark by 2017. In 2006, more than one in five people (just over 20%) living in Canada was an immigrant.

·The aboriginal population of Canada was 1,172,785 in 2006, of 31,241,030 in Canada.

·The English speaking population of Canada was 17,882,775; French was 6,817,655; and other languages spoken in Canada are represented in a population 6,540,600.

·Diversity in Canada is increasingly dominant in the major urban areas, creating “two Canadas” – one quite diverse, the other (in more rural areas) considerably less so


Cultural Trends in Toronto

·The population of Toronto is 2,650,000 and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is 5,500,000

·The city is ranked 3rd in commerce in North America (13th worldwide), and 2nd in innovation in North America (20th worldwide)

·Crime rates in the GTA have fallen for five years in a row – lowest crime rate in any of Canada’s metro centres

·3rd largest English language theatre centre after New York and London

·Immigration: every year, the GTA welcomes half of all immigrants to Canada; they come from over 200 countries and speak over 100 languages; 47% of the city’s population is foreign born, and an additional 21% of Torontonians have parents who are foreign born; approximately 43% of the city’s population in 2006 was visible minorities – estimates now are closer to 47% (2006 numbers included the following: 14% of total population is South Asian, 10% is Chinese, and 7% is Black; 12% is other visible minorities); projections expect that the visible minority population will be in the majority by 2017 (some project earlier) – recent immigrants are three times more likely to lose their jobs as those who are Canadian-born; by 2031, Statistics Canada projects that 63% of Toronto will be visible minorities, with 1 of every 4 persons being South Asian

·There are approximately 60,000-70,000 persons of aboriginal identity in the GTA; 29.6% of aboriginal youth do not receive a high school education; 50% of aboriginals in the GTA live with chronic illness

·The city is quite pluralistic in terms of religion: Roman Catholic (31.4%); Protestants (21.2%); Islam (6.7%); Christian Orthodox (4.9%); Hindu (4.8%); Jewish (4.2%); Buddhist (2.7%); Sikh (.09%); no religious affiliation (18.9%)

·Seniors living in the GTA are approaching the levels of aging populations in Japan and Italy, and 25% of these seniors live alone – in 25 years, there will be more seniors than children and they will require support that is not yet available

·Housing in the GTA has moved into the “seriously unaffordable” category, with median housing prices at about 4.8 times the median household income

·In 1981, there were a total of 30 high-poverty neighbourhoods in the GTA; in 2001, there were 120 such neighbourhoods (A high-poverty neighbourhood is one where the percentage of residents living in poverty is twice the national average or more; more than 43% of poor families reside in high-poverty areas in the GTA) – there has been a significant increase in the intensification of poverty in the city.

·There is a gender wage gap; for every dollar men earn, women make about .71 cents; immigrant women earn about .56 cents for every dollar Canadian-born women earn

·Unemployment is high among youth (over 20% in 2009, or 4% over the national rate for youth)

·Children score poorly on Early Development Instrument in 43% of low income, high immigrant, and single parent families (all these categories are on the rise in the GTA)


Denominational and Church Realities

·Declining membership in the United Church of Canada (approximately 900,000 in 1985; 525,673 in 2008)

·Declining average weekly attendance in United Church congregations (approximately 400,000 in 1985; 193,512 in 2008)

·Declining youth and Sunday School membership (approximately 240,000 in 1985; 74,453 in 2008)

·Declining MDiv enrollments in theological schools across Canada (in 1989, there were 314 MDiv students affiliated with the United Church in 19 ATS accredited schools; in 2009, there were 199 students in the MDiv program spread across 15 ATS accredited schools – this constitutes about a 36.6% decline in numbers of United Church of Canada students preparing for ministry in the last twenty years; as of 2009-10, Emmanuel College has 48 candidates from the United Church in the MDiv program, another 6 inquirers, and 5 candidates on internship, so that a total of 58 United Church students are in our MDiv program, meaning that better than one quarter of United Church candidates currently in the MDiv program are at Emmanuel College).

·The development of denominational alternative tracks to ordination in a wide variety of denominations (decreasing emphasis on the importance of a formally educated ministry)

·Declining financial support from denominational sources, and a general emphasis on providing financial support for local (“money needs to stay at home”) rather than regional or denominational initiatives or institutions

·Biblical and theological illiteracy within church culture


Emmanuel College Realities

·Declining enrollments the past five years in all Basic Degree (BD) programs, and declining total enrollments the past five years; consideration of new programs is needed to meet educational goals of potential students outside the ordination stream and to create possibilities for attracting new students to EC (see Rec. 8 and 12 [these Recommendations are found in the 2007 review of Emmanuel College]; see also Rec. 3; a new fulltime Recruitment position has just been added on a trial basis, with the hope that funding for the position can continue into the future)

·A vast majority of part-time students compared to full-time students in BD programs

·Increasing student debt for students in the Basic Degree programs

·Diminishing quality of existing MDiv applicants and students in BD programs (academic quality and preparation for MDiv work is lacking compared to previous decades, information literacy is poor; students come with few research skills or developed analytical abilities)

·Declining revenues and rising expenses; few endowments to support operational expenses; lack of a clear financial picture at EC (see Rec. 26)

·There is no dedicated staff member to help EC in its fundraising endeavors; there is a “catch as catch can” approach to fundraising; no systematic efforts or dedicated staff pursuing it (see Rec. 11 and 27)

·No governance body precisely turned into Emmanuel matters, and the effectiveness and efficiency of both the Victoria Senate and the Emmanuel College Council are in need of review –governance at EC is complicated and complex, given its connections to Victoria University, the Toronto School of Theology, the United Church of Canada, and the University of Toronto (see Rec. 23, 24, and 25)

·Faculty workloads and staff workloads are heavy; the ability to provide administrative support for faculty is difficult if not impossible with current levels of staffing (see Rec. 21 and 23)

·Disciplinary boundaries and structures operating within traditional academic life, and within both EC and the TST create barriers to genuine interdisciplinarity

·College-specific needs across the TST create a strategic inability to engage the genuine value of a TST context, including the possibilities of joint and cross appointments between Colleges, complement planning for faculty vacancies, and cost/resource-sharing opportunities (see Rec. 14, 18, and 28)

·Tension surrounding the institutional relationship with the United Church of Canada (what does the relationship mean and how should it be defined? See Rec. 25)

·How are values emphasizing ecumenical, interreligious, and intercultural practiced in a College that lacks significant ecumenical, interreligious, and intercultural presence in its BD programs and within its faculty?

·Library of EC is operating at capacity in terms of holdings

·Continued tension between Alumni Relations in Victoria University and Continuing Education in EC (see Rec. 10)

·Very limited awareness of the presence of Emmanuel College and its programs (or of other theological schools in the area) on the part of the city surrounding it

·Two academic centres (Centre for Asian Theologian and Centre for Research in Religion) need rejuvenation or redefinition

·The relationship between BD students at EC and their access to University of Toronto courses (see Rec. 15)

·The problems associated with the conjoint ThD (not a research doctorate in the classifications provided by the OCGS) instead of a conjoint PhD – the problem of graduating ThD students within EC switching to the University of St. Michael’s PhD just before graduation (see Rec . 13)

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