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Advance Whitworth's Distinctive Approach to Integrating Christian Faith and Learning

A literary editing and design class simulates an editorial-board discussion on faith and aesthetics. Social-psychology class members explore their faith assumptions related to human evil. Students studying the history of Chinese art analyze the influence of culture on religious art. In these classes and many others, Whitworth professors are designing and incorporating faith-learning pedagogy that originated in the Vocations of the Christian Professor workshop.

"This unique program holds great promise as a model for other campuses," says Kathy Storm, associate provost for faculty development and a leader of the workshop. "Professors across campus have reshaped numerous courses to incorporate faith-learning integration, offering students rich opportunities to consider how their faith and their academic disciplines inform each other."

Launched in 2005, the annual summer workshop is a key component of Whitworth's faith-learning integration strategies, and it is having a substantial influence on the campus culture. Faculty members in every academic discipline have received training in four areas of faith and learning: vocation, ethics, philosophical assumptions, and faith and culture. Participants also engage in theological readings and receive practical instruction for producing a pedagogy project that they then incorporate into an upcoming class. An archive of project descriptions serves as a valuable resource for the entire Whitworth faculty.

"The workshop helped me understand my role as a professor and as an advisor in shaping discussions of vocation with my students, and it gave me a framework for our Christian identities," says Assistant Professor of English Thom Caraway. "More than anything it connected me with other faculty members, who continue to provide support and feedback."

Since the beginning of the Whitworth 2021 strategic plan, Whitworth has raised $325,000 to endow the Vocations of the Christian Professor program. The university recently secured a $250,000 grant from the Servant's Heart Foundation to grow this important endowment further; the grant will match new gifts to the endowment up to $250,000.