"Why do I have to learn about this?" a student might say, "It has nothing to do with my major!"
While questions like these are sometimes heard in high schools and colleges around the world, students who choose to attend a Christian liberal arts college often want to grow spiritually as well as academically. It's no surprise, then, when students studying to be doctors, teachers, and engineers also take classes about Christianity and the Bible. Faith in the classroom is vital to these students.
At Taylor, some students are surprised to hear themselves saying something more like, "I learned about Christ in my art class today, and it turns out that has everything to do with my major."
A core value at Taylor University is the integration of faith and learning. This means spiritual discussion and biblical insight isn’t just limited to Bible courses; students also learn about faith in their major classes. For example, a Business major at Taylor will learn about servant-leadership in marketing and finance classes, not just chapel.
How Faith Fits Into Every Major
What do majors like Engineering, Psychology, or Spanish have to do with faith? Our faculty would likely point right to the fact that all truth is God's truth. No matter what a student studies, they are learning about something God is involved in and can be glorified by, too.
One of the goals of Taylor faculty and staff is for faith in the classroom to develops into faith in the workplace. What students believe and practice affects the kind of employee they will be in their intended career field.
Computer Science professor Dannie Stanley humorously explains, "I'm not an undercover Christian, but I'm not getting flannel-graphs out either." In his classes, he hopes students grow in their faith as they interact with him and with each other. Stanley seeks to be salt and light to his students and co-workers.
Some of the classes Stanley teaches focus on cybersecurity. His students will learn about coding, hacking, software analysis, recognizing vulnerability, and defending systems. These are technical skills, but faith fits into them. Well-equipped students gain power through these skills, and Stanley points out that part of his classes is learning to harness these gifts from God for good. For example, Stanley says these students will likely face temptations to use their technical skills for personal gain or unethical practices. By grounding these skills in an understanding of their responsibility to God and others, he hopes they will be able to withstand these sorts of temptations.
Faith "sets the context," Stanley explains, for students learning technical, analytical, and creative skills in order to be lifelong followers of Christ in their future careers. He hopes the Computer Science students he interacts with learn about their "responsibility of profession and gifts" through major classes.This enables right responses to temptations in the industry and a ground to use natural giftings and skills for God's glory.
Faith and Foundational Core Classes
Faith in the classroom isn't confined to major classes at Taylor. Students also take foundational core classes as a part of their liberal arts education. Foundational Core requirements include classes related to Christianity, art, exercise, science, and more. Everyone completes these courses, regardless of their major.
Many students share that foundational core classes are some of their favorites because they get to explore different fields and interests, gaining an appreciation for God's diverse and creative work in the world.
One anonymous Taylor student shared their Foundational Core experience. "The most beneficial aspects have been the biblical courses Historic Christian Belief and Contemporary Christian Belief. Both classes challenged my thinking and were taught by excellent professors."
Another student said, "The most beneficial aspect of the Foundational Core Curriculum has been learning to think about everything I do, learn, seek, and consider in light of myself as a being created in the Image of God. Without this contextualization I could surely become an expert in a field or even simply become knowledgeable about a subject, but my knowledge would be incomplete in that it is not enabling me to live a better life in accordance with the purpose of my creation."
Integrating Faith and Learning for Life
Professor of Philosophy & Religion Jim Spiegel says, "At Taylor we don’t see spiritual life as 'fitting into' one’s personal development. Rather, we [should] see all personal development as basically spiritual. For the Christian, spiritual life is not just one compartment of one’s overall life." As students gather for dinner, sit together in chapel, and take notes on lectures in any class, faith and learning are both active at once.
"A fully committed Christian sees every aspect of their life ...," Spiegel says, "as fundamentally spiritual and in need of redemption and enrichment by our knowledge of, and practical devotion to, Christ." Whether students are taking classes to become pastors, physical therapists, social workers, or any other kind of profession, faith has a crucial place.