Is your goal is to influence the university as an institution, or the students who pass through it?
We don’t see this as a choice that we must make. We are committed to both!
Do you view Christians and the contemporary university as enemies in a culture war?
We are keenly aware of cultural battles swirling around us, and especially on university campuses. Logic, integrity, and moral courage require that if we take an affirmative position on anything, we must be prepared to critique positions that are incompatible with it. However, we believe that it is possible to have disagreements without being hostile or adversarial. One of our core values is “Constructive Engagement”:
University Ministries is committed to rigorous and thoughtful interaction with the brightest and best minds within and outside the Christian tradition. We strive to model a positive and constructive engagement with culture in a diverse academic environment and to pursue a mutually beneficial relationship with the university community.
Do you envision the university returning to its origin as a Christian institution?
No. That water passed under the bridge long ago. To change the metaphor, our goal is not to see Christian faith govern the university conversation, but to have a place at the table as a meaningful conversation partner.
You mention courses for credit in your Colorado Study Centers. Can you tell me more about this, and how that factors into plans for future Centers?
For twenty-four years our founding Study Center in Boulder offered courses in Christian Studies for credit, with a transfer credit arrangement to the University of Colorado. We offered credit courses in Fort Collins and Greeley, Colorado, as well, with transfer credit arrangements to Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado. We are currently looking for a new academic partner for Colorado, and will seek academic partnerships in other states as we expand. We can and will establish Study Centers without this component, however, and believe that we can have a fruitful ministry to the university community with everything else that we do.
If there is already a Christian Study Center in a university community, would you start one of your own?
No. We would explore ways in which we might be able to help them or partner with them, but we would not establish another Study Center. University Ministries might pursue a Christian student residential community, or partner with local churches in our campus ministry division, or see if we can help Christian graduate students and adjunct faculty members through our UM Associate Faculty program, but we would not start what would inevitably be a rival Study Center.
What about graduate student and faculty ministries that may already be on a university campus?
Same answer. As we say elsewhere on this website, our goal is to complement and enrich, not to duplicate or compete.
What is the difference between a church-based campus ministry partnership and a church-based Study Center partnership?
Both are guided by the mission of University Ministries to “inspire and nurture a thoughtful pursuit of Christ,” but they differ in the way they pursue this. Study Centers applaud the investment of time and energy to enfold university students meaningfully into the life of a local congregation, and will encourage and support those efforts as they can, but their primary attention is given to the intellectual challenges students face in their classrooms and among their peers. Campus ministers applaud the efforts of Study Centers to help students flourish in their faith and the classroom, but their primary attention is given to discipleship in the context of a local church.