Founded in 1981, The New Seminary is the oldest Interfaith seminary in the world. Having spawned seven other Interfaith institutions, TNS has taken a bold new step and is now offering M.Th (Master of Theological Studies), DMin (Doctor of Ministry) degrees, and Spiritual Coaching.
Even though The New Seminary enjoys a nearly unheard-of situation in that all of its faculty hold terminal degrees, doctorates in philosophy or ministry, and the institution is known for its insistence on a rigorous investigation of Interfaith Studies, TNS has elected not to pursue traditional accreditation at this time. As TNS develops its graduate studies program, it would find the standardization and conformity required by traditional accreditation far too restrictive and antithetical to its mission.
The New Seminary is not interested in being strapped to a physical location which conventional accreditation would require. Nor is the Seminary keen on collecting volumes of books in a digital age when students can take classes on computers or open texts filed in smartphones the size of wallets. The costs of these out-moded requirements have unfortunately helped to put some seminaries out of business. The New Seminary chooses to use its resources to help students rather than pay for over-priced buildings in which to house books, many of which are marketed only to become obsolete in a very short period of time.
Furthermore, there are no conventional accrediting agencies capable of evaluating the work of seminaries on the cutting edge of Religious Studies. The major universities are just now recognizing the kind of work that The New Seminary has been doing for nearly four decades. Should TNS submit to the assessment of an agency, it would need to be an organization comprised of representatives from across the community of Interfaith/Interspiritual/Integral/Intra-Tantric leaders. If such an agency emerges, then The New Seminary gladly will re-evaluate its current stance. For now, the Seminary must be vigilant in avoiding both the blinding ignorance of convention and the dangers of fake assessment as many such companies exist to support the work of diploma mills. Accordingly, The New Seminary must take the risk of remaining independent and seeking to attract like-minded students.
Remaining free to encourage ministers in their exploration of the burgeoning field of Interfaith/Interspiritual/Integra Studies is far more important to TNS than producing “carbon copy” ministers who all sound alike in their dogmatic approach, both to ministry and to scholarship. In fact, the religious and spiritual intersections of postmodernity require that ministers and scholars be trained to employ methodologies that speak to the rising tide of intra-religious dialogue.
The ordination wing of The New Seminary will remain in New York City where it was founded, and the graduate wing is located in Florida. Florida is one of 28 states that offers religious institutions the freedom to explore post-secondary religious education without undue interference. This kind of independence has always been important to The New Seminary as a leader in Interfaith education, and it is especially important today as TNS undertakes yet another leap of faithful adherence to its historical mission of producing Interfaith leaders who are trained to make a difference internationally.
The challenges wrought by a planet in crisis will not likely be solved by old answers to unprecedented questions amid a rapidly changing spiritual climate. Thus, The New Seminary intends to continue re-constructing itself for purposes of remaining ever new.