I’m back at McCormick Theological Seminary this week for another elective course in my Doctor of Ministry program. This week it is a fascinating class called The Gospel and Global Media Cultures, taught by Mary Hess from Luther Seminary. Essentially, it is a course about the intersection of ministry, social media, and digital culture. Here is the introduction from the syllabus:
This doctoral seminar explores the intersecting academic conversations of cultural studies, theology, and digital culture theory towards the end of supporting missional congregations. The seminar encourages interdisciplinary theological conversation among the participants focused on Gospel and digital cultures in the context of missional leadership.
I wasn’t drawn to this course for the “how to” aspect. I’m already active on Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and YouTube. Rather, I’m in this for the reading and discussion. In particular, I’m looking forward to the cultural approach this class is taking. Instead of focusing on social media simply as tools, we will be considering the broader cultural shifts resulting from and contributing to the explosion of digital media in today’s world. Again, from the syllabus:
Media studies scholarship has discarded an instrumentalist perspective on media — one which emphasized a picture of media as trucks carrying messages — in favor of a culturalist perspective which emphasizes the ritual aspects of communication and perceives media as providing elements from which, and within which, people construct meaning in myriad ways.
I’m looking forward to digging into these topics and I trust that this course will deepen and nuance my engagement with digital social media in my work as a pastor.
Blogging is a requirement of the course, so look for posts on this stuff in the days and weeks to come.