We are pleased to introduce a new concentration in the Master of Worldview Studies program: Identity, Belonging and Vocation. This exciting and innovative venture is based on a proposal from Dr. Gideon Strauss, who will take up the position of Associate Professor in Worldview Studies in September 2015.
Many people want to think through the big questions of life, in interaction with serious Christian theological and philosophical scholarship but without the constraints of full-time academic studies. They may already have what they need in the way of professional education but still seek educational opportunities that help them integrate their faith with their particular vocations.
To meet the needs of this currently underserved group across Canada and the U.S.A., we have created a program primarily delivered online but including four one-week residential seminars split between Toronto and New York. This allows students to benefit from close interaction with instructors and fellow students without requiring them to suspend their careers.
The structure of the program is informed by the low residency MFA in Creative Writing offered by Seattle Pacific University, in conjunction with The Glen Workshop. (These were also instrumental in Dr. Rebekah Smick’s popular four-week residential course and workshop program in Orvieto, Italy this summer.)
“...this low residency MWS will explicitly pursue the ICS mission as it enables students to make sense of their lives and find their way in today’s world, with attention to the contributions of the Reformational tradition, current scholarship informed by phenomenological and ethnological method, and contemporary faith perspectives.” —Gideon Strauss
Dr. Strauss has been an Adjunct Faculty member at ICS, acting as an instructor and an examiner in our Master of Arts. He was a conscientious objector under the apartheid regime in South Africa, his home country, and also served as a translator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He spent a decade working with the Christian Labour Association of Canada, served as editor of Comment (published by Cardus), was CEO of the Center for Public Justice (Washington D.C.), and executive director of the DePree Center for Leadership (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena). In the first year, he will teach two courses for ICS, one in Toronto and the other in New York, and spend much of the rest of his half-time appointment promoting the program for its full launch in fall 2016.
We hope to expand ventures such as this as a way of serving the broader Christian community and more fully pursuing the vision of ICS. To facilitate this, we recently published an invitation for proposals for distance courses. Several proposals were approved by Senate and three sessional instructors have been appointed.
"This reflects our strategy for extending the reach of our MWS and also generating significant income." —Doug Blomberg
We plan to advertise nine or more courses of this kind for 2015-16, only offering those that meet the minimum enrolment of five (the financial break-even point). If we were to have fifteen enrolments in each of eight courses, we would generate $80,000 net income. This may seem an ambitious target, but with active recruitment, it is achievable in the mid-term. (It is worth noting that our new Director of Advancement, Patricia Webb, has significant experience in this field.)
In all but two of the Christian Higher Education Canada institutions, tuition is a major source of funds, and deserves to be a primary advancement concern at ICS. Enrolment in our MWS will be pursued energetically, to form the solid base of our fiscal pyramid, with our PhD at the pinnacle and our MA constituting the broad middle. New MWS courses and the new program concentration strengthen the pursuit of our mission and will help us achieve financial sustainability across all our programs.