UM News Service recently published a story about the launch of “Pamoja, a Methodist Network — East Africa e-Academy.” This story is significant for a couple of reasons:
First and foremost, it represents the spread of a new model of theological education that is based online following principles of distance learning. That model already exists in Europe in the Methodist e-Academy. Both Europe and East Africa have adopted this model out of missional necessity. But could this model of theological education end up being indicative of the future of theological education in the US as well? An analogy to the distribution of cell phones is perhaps apt. Cell phones were widely prevalent in the developing world before they were in the US because the US had so much infrastructure invested in landlines. The US also has a lot of infrastructure invested in traditional theological education, but Robert Hunt has argued in a series of pieces on his blog (, , and ) that new models of theological education will be necessary in the US as well.
Second, the range of international partners involved in this new endeavor is impressive. Four United Methodist theological colleges in East Africa, Robert Hunt and SMU, the Methodist e-Academy in Switzerland, the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences, and Cliff College, England. This new network is a good example of successful multilateral, international partnership.