«Theology and Education: Direction of Development»

On 17 May, 2018 the Scientific - Educational Theological Association (the Theological Association) held its first session of the All-Russian Scientific-Practical Seminar “Theology and Education: Direction of Development” in the assembly hall of the Church-Wide Postgraduate and Doctoral Studies (PDPs). The event was organized under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and Science of RF and supported by Rosobrnadzor (National Accreditation Agency, NAA).

47 participants from 34 educational institutions throughout Russia: Theological Academies and Seminaries as well as Secular HEIs realizing theological programs took part in the seminar.

The work of the seminar was opened by G. Teplych, Executive Director of the Theological Association and Head of the Department of Scientific and Educational Projects of the Church-Wide PDPs, and A. Gusev, Head of the Educational-Methodical Management of the Church-Wide PDPs. In their welcoming speech, they outlined the main goal of this scientific and practical seminar - training of highly qualified experts of the Theological Association in sphere of theology for participation in external reviews of educational institutions.

This session of the seminar is devoted to the issues of experts’ certification and accreditation of theological programs.

The first section of the seminar was held in the webinar format titled "Who wants to become an expert" organized by NAA. During the webinar NAA’s staff provided detailed guidelines on obtaining (extending) the powers of an expert for conducting external review of educational activities. The main documents regulating the expert's activity, the requirements for the experts’ applicants, the procedure for obtaining expert powers, as well as the specifics of the examination were considered. NAA’s specialists emphasized the increased demands to experts, which resulted in enhancing their skills, and, as a result, the increased objectivity of the expert evaluation in order to improve the quality of education.

The second section of the seminar was called "Regulatory framework in the field of theological (religious) education: challenges and development perspectives" and was devoted to the accreditation peculiarities of theological programs implemented by the Theological Association. At the end of the webinar NAA’s leading staff made their presentations highlighting all procedure peculiarities. O. Kulkova, NAA’s General Counsel, delivered a presentation on legal regulation of the state accreditation procedure. She talked about the typical mistakes made by educational organizations when applying for accreditation. She also informed in details about the peculiarities of accreditation for religious HEIs.

  1. Zakhvatova, NAA’s Deputy Head of the Department for Innovative Development, continued the stated topic. In her report devoted to the state accreditation procedure she focused on the specifics of the Federal State Standard of the direction "Theology", such as the necessity to implement the programs within a certain confession; the selection of teaching staff from the list recommended by the central religious organization; special requirements for logistical support and electronic information and educational environment. After the presentations, the seminar participants had an opportunity to ask the speakers any questions. A stormy discussion of such topical problems as peculiarities of teaching of disabled persons in the spiritual educational institutions; work features with spiritual literature and requirements for conducting internships were held.

The third section of the seminar was conducted in the meeting format and devoted to the development of educational and professional-expert activities in the field of Theology. The section work was headed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Scientific and Educational Theological Association, Rector of the Church-Wide Postgraduate and Doctoral Studies. S. Pilipenko, Deputy Director of the Department of State Policy in Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Science of RF; A. Tretyakov, Chief Adviser to the Office for Internal Policy of the President of RF; O. Naumova, Deputy Head of the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science; L. Izmaylova, NAA’s Director, composed this section presidium.

The work of the section was opened by S. Pilipenko, who spoke about the program monitoring for the universities’ effectiveness and expressed ideas for its development and improvement. The speaker highlighted the monitoring results, and also spoke about the widespread use of the collected data.

  1. Tretyakov’s report was dedicated to the recognition of Theology as a scientific branch and the development of state-confessional relations. In the statement he spoke about the uniqueness of the Theology branch and some consideration of its topical issues, such as the formation of confessional passports. The speaker especially stressed the necessity to develop this branch and to train experts in theology to preserve and transfer the unique experience of peaceful coexistence of representatives of various religious faiths on the Russian territory.
  2. Naumova spoke about the openness of the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science to the interaction and joint development of Theology as a scientific branch. She highlighted the current processes in the legislation regulating the accreditation of study programs, and expressed her hope for cooperation in the field of accreditation with the Theological Association’s experts.

In her report, L. Izmaylova gave a presentation summarizing the work of NAA’s staff at the first sections of the seminar. In her speech, she particularly stressed the urgent demand for certified experts in the field of "Theology" who are trained by the Theological Association.