The Gateway Seminar is your “gateway” to academic life at John Brown University. As a Christian institution that affirms the motto Christ Over All we believe that being a Christian makes a profound difference in how we approach learning. This introductory seminar explores the idea of Christian learning by taking as its primary question, “What does it mean to be a Christian learner?” Or stated differently, what does it mean to be a faithful learner? Students investigate the answer to this question by looking at where, when, who and what is involved in the activity of faithful learning.

Gateway is a small, interdisciplinary seminar consisting of approximately twenty students, a professor and a student mentor, so that students get to know each other and their professor on a personal level. One of JBU’s desires is that you would start to build community through this seminar. The seminar therefore employs active learning strategies, such as class discussions and field trips.


1) Introduce students to the distinctives of Christian higher education.

2) Invite students to a life of faithful learning.

3) Examine concepts of calling and encourage students to live in response to God’s call.

4) Help students transition to college life.


As already stated, the primary question guiding the gateway course is “What does it mean to be a Christian learner?” You will investigate the answer to this question by looking at where, when, who and what and is involved in the activity of faithful learning.


You came to a college to learn. College is a place where a faithful learner dedicates a significant period of time – usually four years – to acquire knowledge, skills, and connections to equip him- or herself to serve in God’s kingdom. Of course, learning that happens here is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a lifelong learning journey. Nevertheless, college is special place. You are at a special university. JBU is dedicated to equipping students intellectually, spiritually, and professionally – the head, heart, and hand – for service in God’s kingdom. We attempt to do this in a way that honors Christ overall. But that doesn’t mean JBU, as a Christian college, shies away from difficult questions. You can expect your ideas to be challenged. At points aspects of your faith might even be challenged. But our hope is that you will come out with a deeper and richer understanding of yourself and the world around you, and that you will remain faithful to Christ through it all.

Oh, and one more thing. In this class you will learn that college is not just a place for job preparation, though it is that too. It is a place where you will be developing a self - your mind, your heart, and your spirit - in a supportive community of Christian professors and classmates. The richest forms of learning don’t just happen in isolation. The faithful learner learns within a community of faith. That is why we want to help you start to build community in this seminar. 


Christian learners find themselves in a particular time in God’s history. We live in a good but fallen world - one that Christ continues to redeem. As faithful learners we study and appreciate what is good about God’s creation, while also respecting its brokenness. We have the hope and expectation of God’s future restoration of all things, but we also practice our learning knowing that we occupy a fallen space in God’s unfolding story. You are a part of that story, with a role to play. Part of your college experience will be to begin uncovering the calling that God has for you as you partner with him on redeeming and restoring this broken world. Understanding your location within the larger story will help situate you and the task before you. 


The who is you. It is the kind of learner you are, and the one you will become. The is just as important as the that you will learn. On your learning journey, you will be developing a variety of intellectual habits – good or bad – that will either aid you or harm you in your ability to grow in knowledge and appreciate truth. Moreover, your intellectual habits will either empower or disempower you to love God and other people well. In this course you will learn about seven different intellectual habits – the intellectual virtues – like fairmindedness, carefulness, intellectual humility, curiosity, and intellectual courage. Developing these virtues is a way of faithfully stewarding the intellectual resources you have been given. These virtues will not only make you a better learner – they will help you love God and other people well.


We’ve talked about where you are, when you are, and who you are becoming as a faithful learner. But what exactly will you learn? The subject matter and material are largely up to you. Your Gateway class is not discipline-specific, but it will help guide you in your thinking as to which discipline is right for you. It does this by providing you the chance to explore and seek God’s calling in your life. In Gateway you will learn about what it means to be called by God. You will learn about concepts like general calling, missional calling, and direct calling. This class will give you the opportunity to explore your calling and think about how your choice of major will equip you to serve in God’s kingdom.


Dave Vila

Becky Weimer

Cary Balzer

Judy Winslett

Jane Beers

Kim Murie

Joe Walenciak

Matthew Wilson

Jen Edwards

Brad Gambill

Denisha McCollum

Rob Rostoni

Tracy Balzer (Honors)

Trisha Posey (Honors)

Daniel Bennett (Honors)