Pacific School of Religion


The Pacific School of Religion (PSR) asked Collective Invention to help develop a courageous new institutional vision that was unanimously—and emotionally—approved by the PSR Board of Trustees in the fall of 2012. Working with senior leadership, Collective Invention helped to facilitate PSR’s transformation through the creation of new programs, pedagogy and organizational models.


Since its founding in 1866, Pacific School of Religion (PSR) has been a progressive voice of change in the Christian tradition, advocating for the rights of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.  But, like seminaries everywhere, PSR has struggled to remain viable: job prospects for seminary graduates are dwindling, and the combination of declining enrollment and high fixed-cost organizational models have led to fiscal crisis.


For five months, Collective Invention met with the Commission on Strategic Direction, comprised of staff, board members and students for weekly discussions and design charrettes. New insights came to light through internal interviews with faculty and staff and were integrated into the weekly discussions. In an effort to engage the entire PSR community, each Wednesday, “salons” were held with invited guest speakers to address important questions that were brought up during the process. In addition, several learning journeys around the Bay Area and beyond were arranged to inspire and expand the thinking of the commission.


At a time of fiscal crisis, the solutions required were not exclusively financial. The vision that resulted was holistic, addressing elements of the entire PSR system—from the evolving needs and expectations of its students to new delivery systems, from new governance practices to new organizational structures as well as new financial models.