Higher Education Institute Aims to Create Partnerships

Date Posted: 6/27/2011

United Methodist higher education officials brainstormed about possible collaborative efforts during the 2011 Institute for Higher Education in Santa Fe, N.M., and a college and seminary signed an agreement to explore a new graduate studies partnership.

The June 15-17 meeting, sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Division of Higher Education, focused on preparing the next generation of moral, Christian leaders to deal with ecological challenges of the twenty-first century.

“The connections made during conferences involving faculty and administrators at our 120 schools, colleges, universities, and schools of theology are truly important. We hope more partnerships such as the one formed by Iliff School of Theology and Centenary College of Louisiana will result from the Institute,” said Gerald Lord, associate general secretary of GBHEM’s Division of Higher Education.

About 60 presidents, vice-presidents, campus ministers, chaplains or directors of Church Relations, academic deans, faculty, and student development personnel attending the meeting brainstormed about areas of possible collaboration in curriculum, scholarship, and extra-curricular activities.

During the Institute, Centenary College President Dr. David Rowe and Dr. David G. Trickett, President of Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Col., signed an agreement to explore the creation of a new graduate certificate in social change.

The agreement created a joint working group on the project, an outgrowth of the Methodist Global Ethics Initiative intended to facilitate collaboration among the more than 700 Methodist-related institutions and to leverage the Methodist higher education connection to prepare principled leaders for a rapidly changing world.

Trickett said the hope is that the project will help graduates of both institutions “change the world for the better, not only in traditional ways but in new fresh ways yet to be envisioned.”

Iliff already offers a certificate in social change for seminary students and also a master’s degree focused on social change.

Rowe said it his hope that “Centenary students completing the certificate would find the graduate professional study a strong complement to an undergraduate arts and sciences degree as well as a well-definedpipeline to continued study at a top-tier theological school. Working with a world-class institution like Iliff will provide innovative opportunities for our students and better prepare them to meet the leadership demands of the 21st century.”

Representatives from the institutions will examine the feasibility and define the parameters for the new “Learning Bridge.” Under the “21st Century Learning Bridge” concept, a student who earns the graduate certificate would then have a direct portal into further graduate study at Iliff. Once developed and approved, the partnership is slated to be implemented as early as the Fall 2012 semester,taking advantage of advances in learning technology to bring together students and faculty in Shreveport and Denver.

Iliff School of Theology is a graduate school related to the United Methodist Church with students from more than 30 faith and cultural backgrounds. It is one of 13 United Methodist Church seminaries in the United States.

Centenary College of Louisiana is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

The small groups meeting at the Institute developed a list of proposed partnerships and educators signed up to work further on the proposals they were interested in developing.

Curriculum projects being considered included: determining how technology can be used to make classes and lectures at one college available for others; agreements to provide for study outside the U.S.; exploring other collaborations.

Extracurricular projects included: a network for the chief financial officer, sustainability coordinator, and community services representatives and a social media meeting place for students to share ideas on sustainability across campuses.

In the area of scholarship, the group proposed encouraging a variety of faculty from different disciplines to focus on a specific issue for research and study. The group also proposed creating a research agenda directed at meeting the needs of The United Methodist Church and identifying experts outside the academy who can be brought in to help focus research.

See Original Article Including Videos