Shapemaximize playTriangle

October 4, 2018

It’s no secret that Asbury University is lauded as one of the top Christian liberal arts universities in the country thanks to a campus culture of academic excellence and spiritual vitality. As part of Imagine 2022: Asbury’s Vision for Faithful Change, the University is focused on strengthening its academic value and liberal arts curriculum even more so.

Initiative I of the plan is entitled “Learn” and seeks to center the University’s liberal arts foundation by creating and refining curriculum as well as engaging society at large in taking on increased global responsibility and making space for civil discourse and redemptive action on campus.

Its purpose is to “advance Asbury University as a rigorous Christian liberal arts university that embraces opportunities and addresses emerging challenges in an increasingly complex and globally interdependent world.”

The initiative is divided into three main points that are as follows:

  1. Promote Christian liberal arts throughout the University.
    1. Evaluate and align current online model against target audience and its relation to Christian liberal arts mission.
    2. Review and adjust towards coordinated, coherent progression of rigor/complexity within each academic program to present recognizable components of increasing levels of complexity, intellectual structure and clear components of liberal arts skills.
    3. Strengthen Foundations Program.
  2. Engage society and global responsibility.
    1. Cultivate a campus culture of civil discourse, productive conversation and redemptive action.
    2. Create a mechanism to plan, manage, promote events that focus on current challenges in society.
  3. Develop “soft skills” as essential skills.
    1. Develop critical thinking, creative visioning, strong communication skills and collaborative and interdisciplinary learning.
    2. Strengthen relationship between formal academic work and experiential learning.
    3. Equip students with ability to articulate essential connection between liberal arts learning and life in the professions.

As part of Initiative I, several committees work together to strengthen the academic environment of campus through soft skills, liberal arts and global engagement.

Academic Dean Dr. Tim Campbell ’99 oversees the committee that processes curriculum. Dr. Dan Strait oversees the Foundations Program and Liberal Arts Council while Dr. Steve Clements and Dr. Kevin Brown oversee the QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan). Dr. Nick Placido works as the Chair of the IDAC (Intercultural Development & Assessment Committee) committee. Together, these groups are working to make Initiative I a reality.

According to Campbell, progress has already been made as the committees are beginning to move beyond defining terms and into application. He’s encouraged by the headway that’s been made so far.

“At the curricular level, we’ve revised some of the questions for all the curriculum moving forward so that the faculty are engaging in more discussions about what rigor means, what complexity means and what Christian liberal arts means, specific to courses,” Campbell said. “The curriculum process was already fine, but now we’re engaging in deeper conversations about what [things] mean for the institution, writ large.”

The next two years will be focused on continued discovery and observation on how to best reinforce the points within the initiative.

Campbell notes that the IDAC and QEP committees have also been meeting for some time now and are working to unpack the points of Initiative I in order to create space for civil discourse and global responsibility on campus. The various already-existing intercultural groups are coming together to build more cohesion here.

Notably, Initiative I highlights something truly unique about Asbury: its focus on developing students not just in their major-specific, on-the-job skills, but in their ability to be contributing members of society in addition to intensive soul development.

“Soft skills are the skills that employers are actually hiring for,” Campbell said. “Soft skills cover all the jobs you’re going to get, and it’s not just the first job. It’s the next 20 jobs. We do our students a greater service by teaching that within their major. When you have the soft skills and you couple that with that your major discipline area, you’re able to advance and be the person you want in the boardroom.”

As the Academic Dean, Campbell says Initiative I has a special place in his heart.

“I like the fact that Initiative I is ‘Learn,’” Campbell said. “Symbolically, it might say that perhaps we have the university at heart from the beginning.”

Learn more about Imagine 2022 by visiting asbury.edu/Imagine.