Release date: Feb. 2, 2001
Contact: Elaine Justice, Assistant Director, 404-727-0643, or
Candler To Conduct Long-Term Study Of Youth In Its Summer Academy
Emory Universitys Candler School of Theology has received a $160,000
grant from the Lilly Endowment to fund a study of the long-term impact
of its Youth Theology Institute
(YTI), an ecumenical summer academy for rising high school seniors that
is designed to help young people fall in love with theology as a lifelong
"Our goal has been to create a cadre of public theologians for
the church and society," says Mark Winstanley, director of YTI,
now entering its ninth year at Candler. Candlers YTI, which was
originally founded with a grant from Lilly in 1993, has inspired at
least two dozen theological
study programs for teens at universities and seminaries across the
United States and Canada.
"With this research grant, well be able to discover whether
our work with youth has ignited their vocational imagination, leading
them to contribute towards common good," says Winstanley. "Anecdotal
evidence suggests that YTI has had a lasting impact on its participants.
Some of our alumni are working on justice and peace initiatives throughout
the U.S. and abroad." While YTI staffers and researchers have collected
information on participating youth since the programs inception,
the new research effort will be the first comprehensive looks at YTIs
effects and outcomes.
To test their hypotheses, researchers in the two-year study will review
YTIs original claims and purpose, then distribute questionnaires
and hold listening sessions around the country with YTI alumni, now numbering
some 520. Researchers hope to publish a book and a number of articles
on their findings.
Beyond measuring the programs outcomes, Winstanley hopes to use
the findings to develop materials and strategies to train ministers working
with youth, whose ranks currently are in short supply among mainline Christian
denominations. "We hope to use our research to build bridges between
the seminary and the local church," says Winstanley. Currently he
is working on a collaborative effort to apply techniques used in YTI to
help create an orientation program for new youth ministers in the North
Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
What began as a four-week summer residential program for youth at Candler
has now blossomed into a comprehensive Christian education initiative
at the seminary. The goal, says Winstanley, is
"to reconceive the way youth are viewed within society and within
"My own vision is that YTI is much more than a summer academy,"
says Winstanley. "Our goal is to develop a center for research and
education which examines how youth think theologically. We hope to serve
as a resource for theological educators, churches and those who work with
youth on a variety of levels. This research project will move us closer
to making that vision a reality."
Among its other projects, YTI is planning to set up an exchange between
YTI alumni and South African youth.
"We are seeing some parallels between the struggles of the post-apartheid
era and the early years following the civil rights movement in the U.S.,"
says Winstanley. "We believe a dialogue is very timely and will engage
youth in the process of global reconciliation."
Candlers YTI summer academy runs June 30 through July 28, 2001,
and is open to 65 rising high school seniors from across the country.
The program seeks to recruit youth from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic
and denominational backgrounds. It also admits youth who have no specific
faith commitments and those from other religious traditions who are eager
to explore religious questions and Christian theology. Cost of the program
is free to the youth participants. Application deadline is Feb. 16, 2001.
For more information, e-mail email@example.com, or to download an application,
go online to: http://www.emory.edu/CANDLER/yti.
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