The Prospects are Excellent: The Third Age Team Reports Phase 1 Findings

third-age-graphic, long windowsLast time, we reviewed the Changemakers’ and Youth Education Project Teams’ Phase 1 Reports. Today’s focus is on the Third Age Team’s findings.

“Third Age?”

Pearson Education identifies “Third Age” as “a period of life often free from parenting and paid work when a more active, independent life is achieved.” A demographic between ages 50 and 75, Third Age is also “sometimes described as the Silent Generation.” The Third Age Project Team has focused on “next steps” for Third Agers, who have raised their kids, are late in their careers, and are yet have retained interest in intellectual and spiritual growth, as well as engaging social change. As the Team found, many Third Agers “seek to engage in social issues do so from a faith foundation.”

The Third Age Programs Team is lead by Trustee Stan Barkey and coached by CI consultant Erika Gregory. Informed by new patterns of retirement and aging, the Team’s research also included interviews with current PSR students who fit this demographic.

Opportunities for developing Third Age programs include areas and fields of:

  • Fundraising (stewardship)
  • Leadership skill development
  • Strategic planning
  • Gift discernment, and
  • Creative worship

Educational models include the membership-based, multi-campus Osher Lifelong Learning programs, as well as Continuing Studies and Extension programs such as Stanford’s, and University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning.

Notably, many PSR Alumni of this age group already participate in the Field Education Program as mentors. MDiv and MA students also come to PSR to prepare for second careers. Short-term, flexible programs in attracting and retaining such students. The Third Age Programs Team recommends strengthening the programming and support for these students. The Team found that in the Osher example, no spiritual or religious education was offered. Through PSR, course offerings to those “who do not attend any local church, but might attend a lecture or participate in an online class or series that addresses a compelling issue” could fill this gap.

Next Steps

The Third Age Team is exploring programming specific to development of “engaged 3rd Age spiritual leaders”, including their potential participation and interest levels. They see PSR as an untapped resource for local ministries, and a place where people come to prepare for second careers.

Focusing on the general public and in-person/offline lectures, the Team is confident that Third Age interest in such programs exists, and that it is possible for PSR to create programs to fill the educational needs of this demographic.

Next up: New Technologies and Organizational Business Model Team reports. Stay tuned…

Salon Season Begins With the Global Partnerships Team

The Global Partnerships Project Team (.pdf) kicks off Salon season, beginning tomorrow and continuing throughout the semester on Wednesdays.

We’re looking forward to their Phase 1 research recommendations to the Commission regarding PSR’s global partnerships, and will report back as we receive that report.

You can read what other Project Teams have reported during Phase 1 by following this link.

Phase 1 Program Brief Reports, Cont’d: Changemakers Network and Youth Education Programs Teams

face sketchLast week, we reviewed the progress of the Leadership Programs Team in Phase 1 of the Eighth Day project research. The Changemakers Network and Youth Education Project Teams have also reported on their findings. We’ll feature them in this post.

Changemakers Network


One recurring theme of the Project Teams’ research is moving PSR forward in its vision of “a network of spiritually-rooted Changemakers”. Cultivating a vibrant Network of leaders is a key component of this visionary goal. The Changemakers Network Team is lead by President Riess Potterveld and coached by PSR Trustee Julien Phillips.

The Team determined that PSR should pursue the use of databases and other interactive communication systems to attract and retain Network participants through online classes and content; regional connectivity, and volunteer and/or service opportunities. The Team noted PSR’s own Theological Education for Leadership (TEL), Earl Lectures and Sacred Snapshots programs as built-in networking resources for additional integration into the Changemakers Network.

Models for the Changemakers Network include organizations such as TED Talks, Doctors Without Borders and Niroga Institute.

Youth Education Program (YEP) Team

Lead by Marge Boyd and Collective Invention coach Erika Gregory, the Youth Education Programs Team:

  • Conducted web and telephone research
  • Conducted a Survey with Youth Ministers in the area
  • Researched over 52 programs/leads
  • Created an “Analysis of Criteria for use in comparing the various programs


  • Determined next steps

The Team considered youth programs at schools of theological education such as Candler and Lancaster seminaries. Concluding that extensive programming for youth is not financially sustainable, the Team recommended a focus on development of youth ministers, with a potential eye towards developing programming specifically tailored for LGBTQ youth of color. The Team also suggested the addition of youth “tracks” to PSR’s current offerings like Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) activities or “Come and See” weekends.

Next Steps

Both Teams concluded their research on positive notes. YEP is now focused on how PSR can further develop Youth Ministers, while the Changemakers Network Team’s top concern is program form and content, recruitment, and appropriate marketing to retain and build Network participants.

The Phase 1 reports are still rolling in. Stay tuned…next week, we’ll feature a look at the Third Age, and New Media Team’s findings.

Phase 1 Eighth Day Project Research Is Complete


Spiritually-Rooted Changemakers for Social Transformation

The Eighth Day Project Teams recently completed Phase 1 of their work, and their reports are beginning to circulate. Phase 1 is the research stage of the project. Creating “spiritually-rooted changemakers for social transformation” is a long-standing tradition that dates back to PSR’s very beginnings in 1866. Now, with an eye towards the future, Phase 1 Teams‘ research includes (but are not limited to) analyses of: other institutions that face similar challenges which might be exemplars for PSR’s own transformations; how they endeavor to address programmatic, pedagogical, and cost/funding concerns, and how other organizations manage stewardship and retention aspects of their mission and goals.

Currently, teams are at work on Phase 2, which is an analysis of Phase 1 findings. The final phase will bring together the research and analysis, which will be presented to the Board in April 2013. We’ll catalog the Teams’ efforts here on the blog.

An Integrated Perspective…

It’s appropriate to anchor this blog series with the findings of the Leadership Programs Team. Lead by PSR Trustee Julien Phillips and coached by Vice President for Institutional Advancement Rev. Kathi McShane, the Team’s report is a detailed and comprehensive document that lists and analyzes nearly 50 leadership development programs, particularly those focused on theological education beyond the scope of traditional pastoral training.

The Leadership Team reviewed several schools of theological education, university-based Divinity schools, non-academic, fellowship and training programs; and non-profit organizations, shaped by “an integrated perspective” encompassing:

Theology: PSR hopes to develop and critically reflect on the meaning and implications of progressive Christian theology(yes), including significance for leadership of social transformation

Engaged Spirituality: an integrative approach in which faith commitments are clarified and sharpened through spiritual formation and practice that lead to shaping one’s spiritual identity that is lived out through constructive engagement with others and the world around us


Leadership/changemaking: Leadership development with a values-based approach to change making, drawing out personal authenticity, listening and learning and acting in relationship, and leading from purpose or calling.

Comparisons Within the Competitive Landscape

Fuller Theological Seminary’s Max De Pre Center for Leadership stands out as one forward-thinking school of theological education, as does Chicago Theological Seminary’s two-year Master of Arts in Religious Leadership. The De Pre Center features a Women in Leadership lab, while CTS, more traditional in its course listings, offers sub-specialties such as interfaith engagement, and word and worship.

The Leadership Programs Team was also impressed by Stanford University’s Technology Venture Program, which cultivates entrepreneurial qualities in engineers. Chautaqua Institution, Dalai Lama Fellows, and Ashoka Innovators for the Public were among the many related and similar non-profits assessed, both religiously- and secularly-oriented.

Next Steps

The Team also considered continuing legal education, though it found that monetizing such programs relevant to PSR — e.g., legal ethics and harassment courses — is a challenge for competitors who offer them.

The next phase for the Leadership Programs Team is a synthesis of these findings, with a focus on what distinguishes PSR among these many choices in the competitive landscape. The Team is also considering potential organizational and individual partnerships with those sympathetic to PSR’s vision, along with making increasing use of technology and a “changemaker ecosystem” to forward the work of PSR.

Next up: Phase 1 program briefs from the Changemakers Network, Youth Education, and Third Age Project Teams.

Edited: 2-19-13 9:41A for clarity

Of Interest: Partnerships in Pittsburgh

Educause Review Online recently published this piece about collaborative learning innovation and research by an interdisciplinary working group in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s Education Innovation Cluster brings the region’s many Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research labs and “formal and informal learning environments” together with its philanthropy and entrepreneurial communities, through forward-thinking use of technology and digital media tools.

This part stands out:

Inspiring Creativity and Raising the Next Generation of Makers

Pittsburgh is home to an emerging community of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) makers, tinkerers, inventors, and innovators of all ages. In and out of schools, makers combine physical and digital skills from science and engineering, technology and media, crafting, and the arts to learn how to work together to reshape the world around them.

MAKESHOP is a space for hands-on building and tinkering with old and new technologies, exciting projects and cutting-edge media and is the newest permanent exhibit at The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Working alongside crafters, hackers, and inventors, kids in the MAKESHOP can toy around with materials like wood, textiles, and electronics and learn creative processes like animation and printmaking.

Developed in partnership with Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE), MAKESHOP benefits from ongoing stewardship from museum director Jane Werner and learning scientists like research fellow Lisa Brahms.

8th Day Project Teams are watching this organization, with interest.

Read more about Pittsburgh’s Education Innovation Cluster: Pittsburgh: Forging a 21st Century Learning Community