Engaging the Culture/ Changing the World
The Seattle Pacific University Education Plan
October 16, 1998
Seattle Pacific University's commitment to the transforming gospel of Jesus
Christ informs both its history and its future. We believe that a Christian
university should educate people who strive to fulfill God's vision for the
world. Therefore, Seattle Pacific University seeks to equip students to engage
their culture with conviction, courage, and competency rather than flee from
it. This Education Plan builds on our loyalty to our mission and heritage, our
desire to celebrate cultural diversity, and our dedication to excellence. We
are committed to graduating people of competence and character, becoming people
of wisdom, and modeling grace-filled community. Remaining faithful to these
goals will make Seattle Pacific University a premier Christian university.
The following eight educational initiatives establish a framework for future
planning and suggest some of the specific means for implementing this vision
of education for engagement. In addition, we have designated eight interdisciplinary
fields, closely tied to these initiatives, in which to appoint senior scholars
to provide leadership both on our campus and in the larger community.
- The Spiritual Formation Initiative: Uniting Knowledge
and Vital Piety
Remaining faithful to our Wesleyan heritage, we envision a creative new partnership
between the Religion Department and Campus Ministries. Higher education in
the Wesleyan tradition aspires to encourage "faithful learning,"
not only disciplinary rigor. A unified program of spiritual formation will
go beyond serious academic study to include programs to facilitate personal
Christian growth, and to nourish a serving and worshipping community. Specific
plans include the appointment of a Dean of the Chapel, planning for a new
Chapel Auditorium, and enhancing the Religion Department.
- The SPU Undergraduate Distinctives Initiative: Common
Curriculum and University Scholars
While our society and world have become increasingly fragmented, SPU presents
undergraduate students with a unified picture of life through its innovative
Common Curriculum program. Carefully structured to situate students in an
intimate learning community, to provide a deliberate transition into college
life, to challenge students progressively to wrestle with spiritual and intellectual
issues, and to create a common body of learning, the Common Curriculum uniquely
equips students to engage culture. This new program, currently in its first
year of implementation, needs continued support, and the University Scholars'
honors program needs to be repositioned within the Common Curriculum.
- The Graduate and Professional Studies Initiative:
Leadership and Service
While contemporary society struggles even to identify, much less live by,
moral commitments, SPU provides students in graduate and professional programs
with a intentional exposure to Christian ethical thinking in addition to excellent
academic preparation. This initiative is designed to strengthen and coordinate
the efforts of these programs by appointing a Dean of Graduate Studies, providing
graduate and professional programs to a broader constituency, and devising
strategies to better incorporate graduate students into the SPU community.
- The Science and Arts Initiative: Creation and Creating
The twenty-first century needs careful Christian thought about and production
of science and art. As our society becomes increasingly aware of the connections
between science and religion, SPU must become a leader in reflecting upon
scientific methods and practices. Also, perhaps no other cultural area has
provoked such controversy in recent years as those related to the arts and
media. We must produce both graduates who appreciate the fruits of culture
but also faithful practitioners of music, art, theater, poetry, film, and
literature. This initiative aims to strengthen the Sciences and Arts on campus
by constructing a new science building, adding science faculty, and planning
building and program enhancement for the arts.
- The Cross Cultural Initiative: Learning to be Neighbors
As a new global, urban, multicultural world is emerging, people from increasingly
diverse cultures and faiths must learn to work together to survive in peace.
SPU is committed to developing programs to equip students to lead and serve
in this increasingly diverse world. This initiative includes the formation
of an Urban Studies Center; increased student opportunities for cross cultural
service, study, and work experience in both the Greater Puget Sound and around
the world; strategies to move toward more ethnic and cultural diversity in
SPU's people and programs; and additions to the language faculty.
- The Learning and Technology Initiative: Basic Building
Education in today's world includes the competent and ethical use of computers
and technology. We intend to provide faculty, staff, and students with the
best support systems for education in the twenty-first century. This initiative
establishes a new organizational structure for the educational use of technology;
updates computer, technology, and library resources; and provides for a coordinated
Learning Center and academic support services.
- The Faculty and Staff Development Initiative: The
Scholarship of Wisdom
Seattle Pacific University is committed to developing voices of wisdom among
the faculty who can speak effectively to our students, our culture, our community,
and our churches. Faculty and staff development programs will be directed
toward supporting people who can educate for engagement. The creation of a
Center for the Scholarship of Wisdom, regular sabbatical funding, increased
travel funds, and a new compensation and housing program will provide support
for better teaching, scholarship, and service.
- The Collaborative Learning Initiative: Working Together
Recognizing that higher education in the Wesleyan tradition seeks to promote
dialogical learning, not just individual excellence, Seattle Pacific University
will establish innovative ways to work collaboratively to achieve its educational
goals. A new system of individualized faculty contracts and departmental plans
will assist in creating a learning community rather than a system of isolated
scholars and teachers. Also, a new committee, the Campus Partnership for Integrated
Learning, will coordinate curricular and co-curricular programs around rotating
yearly themes endorsed by the President from the Education Plan goals.