Empowering Professors to Explore Economics
Nathan Hitchcock, associate professor of church history and theology, Sioux Falls Seminary
Like all theological educators, the faculty at Sioux Falls Seminary need to find natural entry points into the themes of faith, work and economics. Instead of teaching our teachers about these areas, I wanted to leverage their ability in self-directed study. In 2014, I invited all our professors to do a Syllabus Integration Plan (SIP), which facilitated autonomous learning and self-evaluation. [Editor’s note: The SIP template was selected by the ON steering committee as a “helpful model” for curricular integration.]
The SIP started with several sections: 1) a checklist of areas of interest, 2) listing existing intersections in a professor’s main courses, 3) listing existing intersections with electives, and 4) preliminary ideas about new connections. Once a professor submitted that much, I met with him or her about resources and fresh insights. After a period of self-directed study, that professor would complete the second part of the SIP: 5) listing the most helpful resources, 6) listing new potential course intersections, and 7) naming the most promising new intersection.
Six of our eleven faculty members participated in the incentivized program. I was pleased to find that professors were able to identify many intersections already present in their classes. They came
up with, on average, six new potential intersections for their courses. Even better, because we empowered faculty members to discover such themes in their own disciplines in their own way, enthusiasm for faith, work and economics integration has never been higher.
Entrepreneurship for the Common Good
Jay Moon, associate professor of church planting and evangelism, Asbury Theological Seminary
Our biggest Oikonomia Network initiative at Asbury is a social entrepreneurship incubator known as the Asbury Project. Partnering with professors from Asbury University’s MBA program, we encourage our students to develop and present plans for entrepreneurial ventures that address social issues. Last fall, 31 students from the Kentucky campus submitted business proposals. This greatly exceeded our expectations and indicated that this area is of particular interest to students. Ten students were selected to make presentations at a campus-wide event, and five were awarded cash prizes to start their ventures.
The five ventures are still going strong! One winner presented her project at a regional conference, and another project winner is preparing to make a pitch at a national event. This year, we plan to expand the Asbury Project competition to our Florida campus as well. Also, to continue the momentum of this project, professors from both Asbury Theological Seminary and Asbury University worked together to complete a book and DVD entitled, “Social Entrepreneurship: Business that Changes the World.” This resource will be available at Asbury’s Seedbed website late this fall.
We are continually learning from both our mistakes and successes in order to integrate faith, work and economics in the life of the seminary. So far we have found remarkable institutional acceptance and cooperation with our work in Asbury’s Office of Faith, Work, and Economics. We look forward to carrying on this good work!