01: The current leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church has for years emphasized the need to improve the quality of its theological education.
As part of such efforts, a significant step has been taken with the launch in 2009 of the Cyril and Methodius Postgraduate and Doctoral School under the direction of the influential Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), who in the same year had become the new chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations. The first 65 students started their training in October 2009 and came not only from Russia, but also Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Serbia.
According to the school statutes, students of other confessions can also be admitted, while non-Orthodox guest professors are already regular visitors. Orthodox students need a recommendation from a church authority in order to apply. Beside theological disciplines, entrance examinations also include foreign languages. Moreover, a master’s program will start in fall 2010.
02: In addition to academic training, the school also provides practical training for people who will later work in church diplomatic services.
A number of language courses are offered, since lack of language training was a weakness at theological academies during the Soviet period. The church hopes moreover to train people who would become future bishops. The school should function as a role model for other theological institutes and provide doctoral levels equivalent to those of secular universities.
Students will be required to have already published in renowned domestic or international academic journals before they can obtain their doctoral degree. The curriculum aims at integration into the Russian state educational system, as well as into the current European-wide academic system (the so-called “Bologna System”).
(Source: G2W, Birmensdorferstrasse 52, P.O. Box 9329, 8036 Zürich, Switzerland; http://www.g2w.eu)