The de Vries Institute aims to help Christian educators around the world deepen their capacity to root their work in higher education in Christian faith.
Rather than a separation of faith and learning into two separate arenas, or merely setting faith and learning side by side, our belief is that since faith commitments deal with all of life, they can also inform work in all disciplines and aspects of higher education.
There is no “one size fits all” paradigm for a meaningful relationship between faith commitments and the work of higher education. What may be authentic and compelling in biochemistry may not necessarily be appropriate in sociology or art history. What makes sense in a classroom setting may not necessarily be the best approach for a journal article or a lab project.
The goal is a synergy between faith and learning that makes sense for the particular discipline and the particular setting in which the scholar does his or her work. On the assumption that Christian commitment will always have something to do with our work as scholars (since faith is not something tucked away into a single corner of life), we need multiple strategies for meaningful and transformative integration between the beliefs and practices of Christian faith and the ideas and activities of the scholarly life.
Some areas worthy of attention include:
If the integration of faith and learning is to be compelling, we need to work on multiple aspects. For example, attempts to allow Christian belief to shape what we teach in our courses are apt to be more meaningful to our students if Christian commitments are also influencing how we go about teaching it. Similarly, our efforts to let Christian beliefs subtly and appropriately shape books or articles that result from our research are apt to be more authentic if a strong sense of service to the world as God’s kingdom energizes why we take up that research in the first place.
While we do not all need to become theologians, some theological reflection will be necessary to carry out this project skillfully and persuasively. If we wish to relate Scripture to our work, we need to be able to interpret it responsibly. We need the wisdom provided both by the longer Christian tradition and by recent conversations in Christian scholarship. The Reflecting Faith resource developed by the de Vries Institute offers short online courses intended to help you strengthen your theological understanding and cultivate your imagination about how faith commitments can make a practical difference in your work.
Other organizations around the world whose work overlaps with or complements the work of the de Vries Institute include: