The School of Social Theology & Cristian Culture
The School of Social Theology & Cristian Culture
History of the School
The establishment of the Faculty of Theology had been provided by law since 1925, when the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was founded, but was finally realized in 1942.
Since 1964, the Faculty, after modifying its regulation, had its undergraduate studies divided into three different Schools. One of those three Schools, Department of Social Ministry, did not have a successful course due to the low student enrollment. The other two schools a) the School of Theology and b) the School of Pastoral Theology were fully functioning schools for about twenty years, under common administration, a common assembly of the professors and jointly taught courses. Students enrolled in the School of Pastoral Theology had to attend extra courses of Pastoral Psychology, instead of only that of Pastoral Counseling and in the second year a course of Old Testament Exegesis. The Hebrew course was obligatory for only one year.
In 1962, the AUTh Faculty of Theology was the first to organize a postgraduate programme curriculum, which had four different specialization fields up until 1992. It moved then on to a transitional period until 1994, when finally two different Postgraduate Programmes were created by the two Schools.
Under law 1268/82 regarding Universities, the personnel working at the unified Faculty of Theology had to declare their preference for one of the two Schools. This led to the creation of two different General Assemblies, one for each School, and to separate departments in each of them. Both Schools were administratively, as well as academically, independent. Under the Presidential Decree 316 (Government’s Gazette 166/6.10.94) the School of Pastoral Theology was renamed into “School of Pastoral and Social Theology”, without changing its academic domain. According to law 1351/1983, article 6, paragraph 10, “graduates from the Athens and Thessaloniki’s Schools of Pastoral and Social Theology are entitled to assuming positions in Church, General, Technical-Vocational Education”. This specific provision emerged from the fact that in 1982 a School of Pastoral and Social Theology was founded in Athens. This specific School had run, over the period of 1974-1982, several training programmes under various names, while at the same time it was functioning as a single department. On the other hand, Thessaloniki’s Faculty of Theology, since its establishment in 1964, had provided its graduates from both Schools with equal degrees as well as equal professional rights. With Government' s Gazette 5710/24-12-2020, the Department of Pastoral and Social Theology was renamed Department of Social Theology and Christian Culture.
The Faculty of Theology has a library which emerged from the unification of the prior libraries of the minor designated study areas and libraries of the Faculty, which were situated all over its premises. The library is very rich and organized; there is an Incunabula Department as well as studying areas for the students. Its administration belongs to the Deanery of the Faculty according to AUTH’s Central Library Regulation.
The Faculty of Theology used to publish an academic journal under the name “Yearbook of the Faculty of Theology”. The publication, initially, consisted of a common volume including papers published by the professors of both Schools. Since 1990 it has been published in two separate volumes, one by each School.
Furthermore, the Faculty of Theology is an active member of the Center for Byzantine Research (C.B.R.), which is under the administration of the University’s Senate. C.B.R. consists of five departments (Greek Medieval Literature, Byzantine History, Byzantine Archaeology and Byzantine Law) and is administered by a five-member board of directors, to which the Department of Theology is represented every two years by alternate representatives from the two departments.
The School of Social Theology and Christian Culture was structured under four Departments which aim at realizing, each one separately while at the same time in complete collaboration, Orthodox Theology and Culture Education.
- Department of Holy Scripture and Patristics
- Department of History, Doctrine, Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Christian Relations
- Department of Worship, Archaeology and Art
- Department of Law, Organization, Life, and Ministry of the Chruch
During the academic years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, the School after having completed its inner evaluation process and utilizing the regulations provisioned by law 4009/ 6-9-11 embarked on an effort to reform its Undergraduate Curriculum as well as an endeavor to employ its human resources’ abilities into stressing the Orthodox Theology study in an international environment, under an all-Orthodox and Inter-Christian perspective.
This effort was made in many different levels, starting with the findings of the inner evaluation process, the School’s development during the last twenty years, its Professors’ fields of expertise, all the data gathered from the international scientific community, the extroversive strategy provisioned by Law 4009 and its amendments, and mainly the School’s aim to focus on the study of Orthodox Theology, Church life and its literature in Greek, as a domain producing cultural work which is studied in its various forms by Philology, Archaeology, Byzantine and Medieval Studies, even by Physics, Chemistry and Medicine. Orthodox Theology’s purpose is to provide all these scientific domains with a common ground as a literary background, while at the same time to keep for itself a clear research and educational character and content. Having all these in mind, the School managed to formulate a complete and comprehensive curriculum, with academic coherence and clear educational purposes aiming at producing unambiguous results for its students, something which has not been accomplished so far through the implementation of the previous weary curriculum.
The curriculum is coherent, due to the fact that all the courses included cover a full range of Orthodox Theology’s domains along with all the other domains which are interconnected to Christian culture. It is rationally and symmetrically structured, offering forty-seven (47) obligatory courses, eight (8) open selection courses, seven (7) courses per semester, apart from one semester which includes six (6) courses. The total amount of hours per semester is twenty (20), one hundred and sixty (160) in total and two hundred and forty (240) ECTS.
The aim of the reformed curriculum is clear, since it encompasses the academic discipline of Orthodox Theology along with all the subdomains of Christian Culture, a fact that gives a very specific character to the course of studies. It also gains its place within the international academic community, where Orthodox Theology’s corresponding institutions meet, whether they come from Europe, America and Australia.
The reformed curriculum is also functional and aims towards clearly set educational results. It is divided into four semesters, during which students have to take obligatory courses that are evenly distributed. During the four subsequent semesters the courses are obligatory elective and the students can design their own personal schedule by stating their personal choices. The students also have the ability to choose eight elective courses from those offered by the School or other Schools at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, or, if it is provisioned by AUTH’s Internal Regulation, by the University of Macedonia. This will lead the students into gaining specific perspective when they are pursuing their goals.
This effort is additionally supported by the possibility offered to the students to choose four elective courses of IT applications in Theology and one obligatory course of IT applications in education.
In addition and by following statutory provisions, the students are given the opportunity to acquire one of the four practical skills offered by the School. They are given the option to follow practical, educational seminaries within the duration of two semesters, simultaneously and independently from their core curriculum.
Thus, upon graduation, students can ensure:
a) a complete course of oriented studies according to their free elective courses (Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, Liturgical, Canon Law and, Patristics),
b) pedagogical competence required by law, if they enroll for one or two free elective courses from the School itself or other Pedagogical Departments, which will be additionally counted along with their four obligatory pedagogical courses,
c) certified practical skill, upon successfully completing a practical seminary of either church chanting, icon painting, Pastoral and Social work, or Religious Tourism.
All the above mentioned constituents are what characterize the dynamic character of the reformed curriculum. Besides being complete and multidimensional, it also provides students with every possible flexibility and freedom in their effort to establish a personalized course of studies.
Furthermore, the School posited an innovative suggestion to the Senate. The establishment of an English undergraduate programme, according to the new statutory provisions, focused on Orthodox Theology, whose aim will be to attract foreign students and internationalize the School’s curriculum. The programme is comprised of six semesters in English and two, the seventh and eighth, in Greek. The final ruling of the Hellenic Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency is till pending, according to AUTH’s Senate decision.
Finally, a significant point is the establishment of an English postgraduate programme of Orthodox Theology, which will follow the guidelines of the reformed Postgraduate Programme and will appeal to foreign students.
Renaming of the School
After the reform of the School’s curriculum, and according to specific guidelines set by the courses outline along with all the anticipated learning outcomes, the need for renaming the School has arisen. The new name should be indicative of the curriculum offered in all levels of study. “School of Orthodox Theology and Christian Civilization” is a suggestion which covers all the criteria set by Deans’ Committee of AUTh, namely a) self designation, b) the need emerging from reformed curricula, c) the professors’ fields of expertise, and d) the clearly defined curriculum. The above mentioned criteria were set according to the provisions of the Greek legislation, that demands a clearly articulated definition of the studies’ field and aim.
The new name of the School is legitimated through the research and teaching work being carried out by the professors as well as their academic field of expertise. The research carried out on the basis of orthodox Christian tradition, the needs and requirements of a commonly shared, indigenous as well as foreign, interest in Orthodox studies constitute an added legitimating factor.
According to all these presuppositions, the School submitted to AUTH’s Senate a formal request to change its name from “School of Pastoral and Social Theology” to “School of Orthodox Theology and Christian Civilization”. The discussion that followed in the Senate proved that the objections expressed regarding the terminology differentiation between religion and theology are deep and function as a determinant factor defining the future of Orthodox Theology as an integral part of Humanities. More importantly, the right each School has to be self-defined according to its work and academic domain was infringed. What could be considered as a positive outcome is that the banned term Orthodox Theology constitutes an academic domain which cannot be marred by any effort to be defined on the basis of confessionary reasoning or exploitation.
Therefore, the School of Pastoral and Social Theology reserves the right to apply for a re-evaluation of its formal request and claim, according to academic criteria, what is obviously legitimate and has been the School's standpoint so far, namely to change its name in order for it to be indicative of its reformed curriculum and its other academic activities.