Coursework Overview

Participation in the Semiotics, Church, and Culture DMin program can be broken into two parallel course sequences:

  • Project Portfolio Research Sequence with Project Faculty: DMIN 750, 751, 850, 851, 950, 951

  • Lead Mentor 'taught' courses: DMIN 709, 719, 729, 809, 819, 829

Project Portfolio Research Sequence

The six Project Portfolio research courses are designed to give students greater flexibility to engage in research and writing on a ministry Need, Problem, or Opportunity (NPO) of interest to them. Each student is assigned to a small peer group under the supervision of a Project Faculty (PF) member who guides their research through a series of key milestones to generate the final portfolio.

The research course sequence is divided into 3 stages--Discover, Design, Deliver--with milestone assignments to mark the completion of each stage.

  • Year 1 - Discover: Students first explore a Need, Problem, or Opportunity (NPO) from their ministry context. They draw on discoveries from grassroots ‘stakeholder’ insights in their context as well as expert analysis through immersion in relevant academic and theological literature.
  • Year 2 - Design: Students engage 'stakeholders' from their context to brainstorm solutions. Out of this process, students identify and test a project prototype to develop in the third year.
  • Year 3 - Deliver: Students refine the prototype with potential users, evaluate their findings, and create a launch plan to develop their project after graduation. An examination committee evaluates the project and launch plan for final approval.

All of the key milestone documents are compiled in a final portfolio for the library archival and digital publication. 

Courses Taught by the Lead Mentor

Dr. Len Sweet's courses are characterized by directed reading and cohort-based interaction. Following Dr. Sweet's lead, students explore various aspects of applied semiotics and leadership in a fast-changing culture. His courses normally include the following elements:

  • Reading: Dr. Sweet provides a reading list and schedule of books, articles and websites for students to discuss.

  • Online discussions: Cohorts engage with one another in weekly online forums to discuss and analyze the assigned course materials.

  • Zoom Chat: Students meet once a week for a live video conference Monday mornings, Pacific Time. Dr. Sweet personally facilitates these discussions with the cohort. The Important Dates page outlines the specific days and times for future cohorts. 

  • Advances: As a part of DMIN 709, DMIN 729, and DMIN 829, students engage in face-to-face lectures with Dr. Sweet.
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Curriculum Plan

Complete the following:
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. The purpose of the course is to provide learning experiences in which students encounter, critique, and hone each other’s thinking about the power of signs, symbols, and metaphors in scripture, church and culture. Additional course fee may apply for face to face component.
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. The purpose of this course is to cultivate recognition and innovation of signs, to re-sign and re-frame Jesus’ presence in the church and world, and to activate metaphor as change agent in preaching, ministry, and mission within one’s ministry context and within current culture. Learning to speak the vernacular (narrative + metaphor + soundtrack) will be charted.
A course exploring and exegeting one’s own personal faith journey. Students are challenged by the reading and writing assignments to reflect on what it means to be a unique follower of Jesus in our current culture, and to configure the relationship between the particular and the universal. The course focuses on deepening faith and learning to recognize Jesus in every context and culture. Additional fee may be required for cross-cultural face to face experience.
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. An interactive curriculum in which students explore how what they’ve learned in their cross-cultural experience impacts the practice of ministry and mission. Students will be challenged to consider how they might modify their semester learning plan (SLP) in order to incorporate these new global insights within their local ministry context.
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. This course explores the nature of creativity and what it means to continue God’s creativity as creatures made “in the divine image.” Learning is designed to help students cultivate, initiative and innovate creativity and change within their current ministry context. This course will serve to guide and nurture thinking in the final formulation of the dissertation.
A final course on the 21st and 22nd century church and the impact of cultural trends, the need for community, and the changing practice of ministry. The difference between trend-tracking and truth-tacking will be defined. Students will evaluate their own faith within their ministry context and their elevated role as semioticians in a world of shifting signs and stories. Students will evaluate their own ability to (re)sign Jesus as Truth within a world of trends. Additional course fee may apply for face to face component.
Complete the following:
Introduces research tools and library resources and orients students to the DMin research process. Students identify and articulate their ministry NPO and draft a discovery strategy to explore its contours. Pass/no pass.
A course designed to immerse students in the professional, academic, and theological literature relevant to their research. Students will produce a draft of their Academic Literature Review Essay and present on their findings to their cohort. Pass/no pass.
In this course, students engage key stakeholders from their ministry context in a discovery process to assess the real needs of those impacted by the NPO with a focus on identifying desired outcomes and questions. Students generate a report on their findings. Pass/no pass.
In this course, students identify possible approaches to addressing the NPO. They create several 'low-resolution' prototypes and test them in a series of 'timeboxed' iterations. Based on what they discover, students identify one idea as their Most Viable Project to pursue. Students generate a report outlining their prototype process and findings. Pass/No Pass.
In this course, students develop their Concept Proposal into a formal proposal for their Summative Project according to design standards for the chosen medium. The proposal identifies project parameters, audience, outcomes, a test group, and metrics for assessment effectiveness. Pass/no pass.
A final research course in which students create a prototype of their Summative Project and test it with a focus group. Students will evaluate and report their findings from the test and develop a post-graduation launch and sustainability strategy. Students will submit their Summative Project and Launch Plan for examination by the Project Faculty, Lead Mentor, and a third external examiner. Once approved, students compile a Project Portfolio to be archived in the University Digital Commons.

To maintain enrollment until project is complete. Pass/no pass.

‡Students must maintain continuous enrollment in the project continuation until completion. DMIN 955 is required for students who do not finish their project and its assessment within the minimum of 8 hours. DMIN 955 is repeatable each fall and spring until the project is finished.

Curriculum Sequence

Year 1

Fall Semester (5 hrs)

Course Credit Hours
DMIN 709 Introduction to Biblical, Ecclesial, and Cultural Semiotics (includes First Advance) 2
DMIN 750 Identifying the Need / Problem / Opportunity (NPO) 3

Spring Semester (6 hrs)

DMIN 719 Semiotics as a Change Agent in Preaching, Ministry, and Mission (Church and Culture) 2
DMIN 751 Exploring Current Literature Surrounding the NPO 4

Summer Semester (4 hrs)

DMIN 729 Re-Cognizing and Re-Signing Jesus in 21st Century Culture (includes Second Advance) 4

Year 2 

Fall Semester (6 hrs)

DMIN 809 Global Church and Local Church 2
DMIN 850 Discovering Stakeholder Perspectives for addressing the NPO 4

Spring Semester (5 hrs)

DMIN 819 Cultivating Imagination and Innovation in Ministry and Mission 2
DMIN 851 Experimenting with Prototypes 3

Summer Semester (4 hrs)

DMIN 829 Semiotic Shifts: Perspectives on Changing Trends in Church and Culture (includes Final Advance) 4

Year 3 

Fall Semester (4 hrs)

DMIN 950 Designing the Project 4

Spring Semester (4 hrs)

DMIN 951 Assessment of the Project 4