Friday, November 10, 2006

New Testament Teaching in an Urban and Multicultural Setting

This weekend North Park University is inaugurating a new President, David Lee Parkyn. As a part of the celebration the University hosted a Symposium on NPU's distinctives. Among them are the elements of Urban and Multicultural. Both topics were the subject of papers with a panel of respondents. It was great to see our own faculty and students thinking about these topics in the setting of our community. The topics proved fruitful and there was a diversity of opinions and approaches. After the presentations, I am left asking a series of questions:

  • How does an education that is in an urban setting look different than one that is in the suburbs?
  • How does an institution create engagement with the Urban community around it?
  • And more personally, how do I as a New Testament scholar inculcate urban and multiculturalism into my research, writing, and teaching?

While the answers to these questions are not easily had, one idea comes to my mind that seems to provide, at the very least, a direction, a trajectory toward the answers. The idea is "Relationship".

I think what will make my research and teaching urban and multicultural is my "encounter" with the urban and multicultural setting around my university. I will imbue urban and multicultural perspectives to the extent that I am in relationship with people who are urban and represent multi-cultures. In this way, it is not through gimmick or formula or program that will bring this about, but willingness on my part to incarnate.

But still, what are the research topics and unique pedagogy that marks a New Testament scholar engaged in an urban multicultural environment? This is still something I need to think deeply about.

Nevertheless, I think the only way North Park will fulfill its potential to be an engaged urban academic institution is as more and more of its faculty live into its unique urban and multicultural setting.

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