On the basis of the background described above, considering the short and limited experiences and resources of the member schools of ATESEA, and in response to the urgent and common demands for higher theological education from churches in the region, a consortium style of higher theological education institute, the SEAGST, was established in 1966 under the auspices of the ATESEA.
In brief, SEAGST was created in its current form of a consortium with "areas formation" as its historical background, in a situation where resources and experiences were both insufficient and limited, with the obvious purpose to launch a higher theological education programme with the accent on Asian contextualities.
With forty years of labour and development, SEAGST has grown from five areas to currently seven areas, while its institutional matrix, ATESEA, has grown in its membership from 16 originally to 104 currently.
The Critical Asian Principle has been the framework applied by ATESEA and SEAGST in theological education.
ATESEA member schools and SEAGST should reflect the spirit of the above guidelines in their curriculum, ways of teaching and training programs.
SEAGST began with a master of theology program, followed by two doctoral programs: in theology, begun in 1972, and in pastoral studies, started in 1981.
Twenty-six of ATESEA's ninety-two schools participate in SEAGST, which is organized under a "cluster" system in eight areas, each with its own dean and several with their own registrar.
As of May 2002 SEAGST had granted 202 degrees: 111 master of theology degrees, 53 doctorates in theology, and 38 doctorates in pastoral studies.
Michael Gilligan from the Henry Luce Foundation, New York City, addressed the assembly on the topic "Theological Education Facing Challenges of Market Economy." He warned against "the risk of new forms of colonialism" that comes with globalization, and he pointed to the SEAGST as an illustration of an effective way to cooperate in theological education.
The Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia (FTESEA), chaired by Hsiao Ching Fen in New York City, with Marvin Hoff as executive director, is an ecumenical agency that provides financial support to ATESEA and SEAGST as partners in the ongoing development of theological thought and education in the region.
From the beginning, the SEAGST faculty knew that there are not one but many religious and cultural contexts in Asia.
The SEAGST viewed Asia as one part of the global web of cultures and languages.