What kind of learning does Reflecting Faith foster?
The Reflecting Faith learning modules cover a range of topics related to faith and higher education. But a course is more than its contents. What are the learning goals that have shaped the design of these resources? How do we hope that you will grow if you participate in any of these modules?
Reflecting Faith is interested in we might think of as applied theological literacy. We want to enhance the capacity and confidence of Christian faculty as they seek to think in a theologically informed way about their work in higher education. We hope that the courses will help to build theological literacy as participants around the world explore biblical and theological writing around a specific theme and its impact on Christian scholarship.
This does not mean that our goal is simply for you to know more theology. Reflecting faith courses are not traditional seminary courses. The focus is specifically on how faith commitments can responsibly be worked out in professional and scholarly work around the world. Our desire not simply that you can name more theological ideas, but that you can make your faith commitments fruitful in your own teaching, scholarship, or leadership. The key skill here is fruitful dialogue between Christian faith commitments and academic work. We would like you to complete each module more confident that you can fruitfully and with academic integrity draw upon your Christian commitments as you work in higher education.
This core goal has several implications for how we have designed our courses and how we approach leading them:
- First, while these courses are rooted in a Reformed, Protestant tradition of Christianity, the goal is not to test your conformity to a specific set of theological affirmations beyond a broad commitment to basic Christian orthodoxy. You will bring your own formation in a particular Christian tradition and cultural context to the courses. We hope to share a clearly Christian framework but we do not set out to prescribe ahead of time exactly what connections you will make between faith and learning. Success does not necessarily mean that all arrive at exactly the same conclusion, but rather that you strengthen your capacity to engage in constructive and disciplined Christian reflection on academic work.
- Second, since the task of Christian contribution to higher education is complex and calls for our best thinking and honest self-critique, learning cannot mean checking off correct answers or scoring points. We seek instead to foster slow and careful reading, repeated engagement with texts, deliberation together with colleagues, and thoughtful and creative application. Success does not mean a list of correct answers. Rather, we aim to support a process that probes the thoughtfulness and integrity of the connections that are being made between faith and learning in your work.
- Third, since the community of Christians working in higher education spans the globe and crosses cultural, political, and socioeconomic boundaries, conversation about faith and learning has to make room for differing identities and experiences. These courses do not aim to reinforce the voices and assumptions of a culturally or politically local version of Christianity or Christian education, and so the course materials include the voices of a variety of Christian scholars. We hope that you will bring and encounter a diversity of voices and experiences, to the benefit of all.