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Reconciliation 101

Kerry Dearborn teaches her students about reconciliationWhen the new minor in reconciliation studies launches in Autumn Quarter 2010, it will be after some of the most collaborative academic work ever done at SPU.

During the past three years, faculty, students, and staff across most academic disciplines have come together to create a minor that is central to one of SPU’s signature commitments: Seattle Pacific University will be a place that models grace-filled community and practices radical reconciliation.

A Fresh Approach

Supported by a three-year grant from the Stewardship Fellowship, the minor represents an important step for SPU. But it’s the approach to the minor that excites Kerry Dearborn, professor of theology and director of the minor.

“Other institutions such as Duke Divinity School offer degree programs that incorporate themes of restorative justice and peace studies within a larger theological framework,” she says. “But our minor will combine interdisciplinary classes rooted in our School of Theology with practical experience through our partnership with SPU’s John Perkins Center. It’s a holistic, biblical, theological, and applied approach to training in reconciliation.”

Unified Efforts

Over the years, faculty members across Seattle Pacific have discussed aspects of reconciliation during their courses. But now the faculty members’ individual efforts will be unified under criteria established for reconciliation studies. Dearborn in partnership with the Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development has even coordinated a book-study group to discuss reconciliation content in courses across disciplines. Sixteen faculty members are involved in this yearlong study.

Along with credits selected from classes within their own academic disciplines, students will take an introductory course to reconciliation, core classes in theology and sociology, and a culminating course at the end of the minor. And they’ll have a hands-on, service-learning requirement that supports their coursework.

Putting It Into Practice

It’s this practical element in collaboration with SPU’s John Perkins Center that is critical to the success of the minor, says Dearborn. With the Perkins Center’s wide range of opportunities, students will have a unique opportunity to apply what they’re learning in the Seattle community and beyond.

“Reconciliation is a central need within all cultures,” says Dearborn. “Equipping students to participate in what God is doing to reconcile people to God and to one another is a profound way to change the world in ways that reflect the reign of God.”

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