From this article in Time Magazine:
Training Pastors, Rabbis, and Imams TogetherCan you imagine any such syncretism going on in religious-training institutions in Islamic countries, particularly in Saudi, the land of Allah?
When Jerry Campbell became president of California's renowned Claremont School of Theology four years ago, low enrollment and in-the-red books threatened to close the 125-year-old institution. But since Claremont is the only United Methodist seminary west of Denver, Campbell resolved to find a way to stay open.
Drawing from classic American entrepreneurial wisdom — when faced with extinction, innovate — and a commitment to engage today's multi-faith culture, this fall Claremont will commence a first on U.S. soil: a "theological university" to train future pastors, imams, and rabbis under one roof. The experiment to end isolated clerical training brings together Claremont, the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) and the Academy for Jewish Religion California. The hope of officials at all three organizations is that when leaders study their own religious traditions together alongside friends of other faiths, they will develop the respect and wisdom necessary to transform America's fractured religious outlook.
Only recently has the American Muslim population had the finances and the student pipeline to try to launch its own higher education institution; today's imams have trained either overseas or in community-based but unaccredited mosque programs. In addition to Claremont's efforts, Connecticut's Hartford Seminary is seeking accreditation for a new imam-training program, and Zaytuna College, a new, unaccredited Islamic liberal arts school in Berkeley, Calif., hopes to eventually include clerical classes.
The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) begins formal discussions this fall to explore how pluralism might change pastoral education. "I think that we are on the cusp of a lot of change, but we are at the front end of it, so it's not clear which of these are going to be the survivors, what new models might in fact emerge," says Daniel Aleshire, executive director of ATS. "In 20 years, the whole theological training landscape could be quite different." Already two other theological schools — Boston's Andover Newton and Chicago's Meadville Lombard — have followed Claremont's lead and in June announced plans to form similar interfaith consortiums....