Wednesday, September 28, 2016
I was recently asked to describe the purpose of the class “Gateway Seminar in Christian Scholarship”. The ‘big-picture’ answer is to help students make a good transition to college life. For the first half of the class we use a textbook common across all 20 sections of the course, which outlines the distinctive of a Christian university and how that applies specifically to JBU. Exposing the students to the rich heritage of JBU is a rewarding experience for me, as I have been able to serve alongside 6 of the 7 presidents who have led JBU. With our solid evangelical foundation and the value placed on preparing for a vocation in life, a JBU student has a great advantage in preparing for work, family, ministry, and life.
Woven into the discussions of university life is the application of biblical truth and a Christian worldview. Students are challenged to avoid compartmentalizing areas of life into secular and sacred, but to use a Godly lens to observe all aspects of life. There is also emphasis given to approaching studies with “intellectual humility”. The more educated and highly skilled we become, the more we need to guard against pride that can derail our walk of faith.
Having spent almost 40 years studying and practicing in the construction profession, I use the second half of the course to have students explore numerous case studies - construction projects from biblical times to present day, highly technical projects. The students examine the resources required for each project, the impact they had on culture, and what history has shown us as to the benefit or cost to our societies.
I have several student outcomes that I want to encourage as a result of taking this Gateway course. I hope that each student will have a better understanding of the complexity and challenges of constructing the built environment and appreciate the professionalism that went in to constructing the next building they walk into or the next road they drive on. I also trust that this systematic approach to studying construction will help the student throughout their life to evaluate the merits of any project they are considering, whatever their profession they are serving in.
Finally, I hope that at the end of the semester students find it easier to approach faculty on campus. JBU is a great place to be mentored by staff, faculty, as well as fellow students. Within the first two weeks of the semester, I had my 25 Gateway students over to my house. Along with a short lecture/discussion, my wife treated them to homemade scones. For a finale, I played them a song on my musical saw.
Real faculty, real students, living life together to form another generation of God-honoring global citizens living out head, heart, and hand…..