What is an Interest Group?
An Interest Group is a number of CTSA members who are engaged in a focused, scholarly project or who would like to learn about a new theological area. Gathered together, under the leadership of a coordinator, they have applied for recognition and have been approved by the CTSA Board of Directors for a place on the program of the annual convention. Each Interest Group is assigned one meeting time at the convention.
An Interest Group is constituted for a three-year term without the expectation of renewal. There are nine interest groups in existence at any one time, with staggered terms. This allows for the creation of up to three new Interest Groups each year.
An Interest Group does not constitute a “farm system” for Topic Sessions. It is ad hoc, to the interests of its members, and is not a dimension of the convention’s enduring structure. No Interest Group may replicate the Topic Session rubrics. For example, there may not be an Interest Group on “Christ,” though there may be an Interest Group on “Cappadocian Christology as a Contemporary Theological Resource.” Even though an Interest Group is not renewable, the end of its term might not mean the end of convention activity on the Group’s area of interest. For example, the “Interest Group on Cappadocian Christology as a Contemporary Theological Resource” may end after three years, and, through the requisite approval process and space permitting, be followed by and approved as the “Interest Group on the Theological Orations of Gregory Nazianzus.”
How is an Interest Group Approved?
Interest Groups are approved by the CTSA Board of Directors, whose criteria for approval will be three-fold: a critical mass of scholars dedicated to a particular theological interest, the absence of redundancy with respect to current convention structures, and the availability of convention space. In most cases, a critical mass of scholars will number 8-10 persons. A smaller number of persons may constitute an Interest Group if the Board judges their interest to contribute to the Society in a special way.
A proposal for an Interest Group may be submitted at any time and should be directed to the current President-Elect of the Society, who will present the proposal to the Board at the October Board Meeting (submission deadline date is October 5). The proposal should include three items: 1. an explanation of the significance of the Group’s topic or focus, and the Group’s potential contribution to Catholic theological scholarship (200-500 words); 2. a listing of CTSA members who have identified themselves to the coordinator as interested participants in the Group; and 3. provide a detailed plan for the three years.
Coordinating an Interest Group
Unlike the coordinators of the convention’s Topic Sessions, the Interest Group coordinator may serve in that role for all three years of the Group’s term. The Interest Group coordinator is not required to issue a "Call for Papers" advertised to the entire CTSA membership. The coordinator may arrange the convention program by inviting presenters. Or, to foster wider interest in the Interest Group, the coordinator may issue a "Call for Papers" for posting on the CTSA website. Some Interest Groups pre-circulate papers to their core members, and then offer summaries of the developed papers for anyone who attends their convention sessions. All these possibilities, and others that might be imagined, offer a spectrum within which the coordinator is free to choose. The Interest Group coordinator participates in the annual Sunday morning Conveners’ Breakfast at the convention.
Any questions about applying for an Interest Group may be addressed to the current President-Elect, whose contact information appears on "Board of Directors" page of this website.