Asbury Announces Intercultural Studies Program
WILMORE, Ky. — Opening doors for new opportunities to share the gospel, Asbury University’s Missions Program has been refocused as Intercultural Studies. The program retains its central commitment to missions alongside a growing emphasis on preparing students to share the gospel cross-culturally.
With a robust foundation in intercultural competence, the program builds skills crucial to increasingly globalized workplaces and creates opportunities for work in “creative access countries” — areas in which traditional missionary activities are banned or visas are difficult to obtain.
“This name change enhances our commitment to mission,” said Kirk Sims, assistant professor of Christian Mission and academic program coordinator for Intercultural Studies. “It expands the option for missions classes, and it’s an excellent liberal arts program. It builds on the robust foundation students get at Asbury, particularly synthesizing Bible and theology and cultural sensitivity so that they will be prepared to be effective witnesses and communicators of the gospel in their new contexts.”
The program’s name change is also in keeping with the terminology commonly used in graduate programs — doctorates in Missiology are increasingly awarded under the disciplinary name of Intercultural Studies.
“I am hopeful that the Intercultural Studies program will equip me to better understand and engage the different cultures I come across,” said Seth Kinyua ’20, an Intercultural Studies major. “In a world of multicultural pluralism, I believe it is important for Christians to be equipped in order to provide a counter-narrative to prevailing cultures that are not in keeping with the Gospel. Renaming the program will lead to greater engagement with cultures that would otherwise be opposed and resistant to anything Christian.”
Intercultural Studies offers both a minor (five Intercultural Studies plus Christian Ministries 100) and a major (11 courses in Intercultural Studies / Christian Ministries plus four Bible courses). Social Justice and Business as Mission tracks are available, and students in other majors can also take Intercultural Studies courses for elective credit.
Here’s a sampling of upcoming courses in Intercultural Studies (for Fall 2017):
- Christianity and World Religions
- Cross-Cultural Life and Work
- Strategies in Intercultural Communication
- Mission Theology and Strategy
Sims says the breadth of Intercultural Studies prepares students to be effective witnesses for the gospel, not only in traditional missions models, but also in creative ways that transcend cultural barriers.
“This is a way to enable our graduates to go to contexts that most urgently need gospel communicators,” said Sims. “Intercultural Studies equips students with the tools they need to read people in their cultural contexts in order to have the gospel answer the questions people are asking. Our questions differ, but the gospel is good news for everyone.”
To learn more about Intercultural Studies at Asbury, visit: asbury.edu/intercultural-studies.