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New master's concentration focuses on pastoral care ethics, spirituality

June 09, 2009

Listening, supporting, teaching, encouraging, befriending – all of these processes share the critical common thread of caring. A new Arizona State University master’s degree program concentration will help its graduates develop the perspectives and skills needed to provide effective counseling and spiritual guidance in a variety of care settings.

The master of arts degree in applied ethics and the professions, with a concentration in pastoral care ethics and spirituality (PCES), is a collaborative offering from ASU’s Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. This concentration will be offered on ASU’s West campus in northwest Phoenix.

The new master’s in applied ethics and the professions offers four additional concentrations on ASU’s Tempe, Downtown Phoenix, and Polytechnic campuses. They are leadership, management and ethics; biomedical ethics; sustainability and environmental ethics; and ethics and emerging technologies. Classes for students in all five concentrations begin this fall.

“This new master’s program offers a broadly interdisciplinary training for professionals and decision-makers in a range of fields, including law, medicine, business, engineering, public administration, environmental ethics, social work, and pastoral care,” says Peter French, director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics.

“The PCES concentration represents the result of a collaborative effort with our colleagues in New College,” says French, who also holds the titles of professor of philosophy and Lincoln Chair in Ethics in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It is a unique concentration that addresses an important societal need.”

“This concentration is suitable for experienced professionals working in the fields of care, bereavement, trauma, chaplaincy, or veteran affairs, who want to deepen their seminary, divinity, health or social work training,” says Martin Beck Matuštík, Lincoln Professor of Ethics and Religion in New College and PCES concentration coordinator.

“New bachelor’s degree recipients whose goal is to become involved in these fields also will benefit,” Matuštík says. “For example, the PCES concentration is of interest to several recent graduates of New College’s B.A. program in religion and applied ethics who are seeking employment opportunities in care or educational fields in which care ethics and interdisciplinary perspectives on religion are needed.

“The training in pastoral care ethics and spirituality provides a bridge a between standard divinity or theology curriculum and a graduate social work or counseling degree, so the PCES concentration is ideally suited to complement and integrate ethical, religious, social work, and counseling fields in a way that prepares graduates for a variety of care situations.”

Students in all five concentrations of the 30-credit applied ethics and the professions program take two core courses, Foundations of Ethics I and II. These courses are designed to help students develop the theoretical and historical basis needed to pursue specialized applied ethics expertise. Foundations of Ethics I will be offered at ASU’s West campus on Wednesday evenings in Fall 2009.

The course Ethical and Spiritual Issues in Pastoral Care is required as a gateway course for students pursuing the PCES concentration. PCES students then select five elective courses from numerous choices including Ethical and Spiritual Approaches to Death and Dying; Trauma Studies; Ways of Spiritual Transformation; Continental Philosophy and Religion; Group Therapy and Intervention; and Foundations of Bioethics.

All five concentrations in the master’s program culminate in a six-credit capstone course designed to give students a hands-on learning experience that applies their skills in identifying, analyzing, and resolving ethical issues within a professional context.

“For PCES students who aspire to work in a hospice, hospital, religious organization or correctional facility, the capstone project could involve an internship in such a setting,” Matuštík says. “Students already employed in a professional role will complete a project that enables them to integrate ethical principles and theories into their current work environment.”

Applications are now being accepted for students wishing to start the master’s degree program in applied ethics and the professions this fall. More information is available at Details on the pastoral care ethics and spirituality concentration can be found at