Most Seattle Pacific University undergraduate students follow the same general education curriculum to complete their undergraduate degrees. Among these requirements are University Foundations (UFDN) courses, which include three consecutive courses centered in the foundations of Christian faith.
These courses introduce students to the biblical heritage and to the distinctive doctrines and practices of various strands within the historic Christian tradition. Students are confronted with perennial human questions, and challenged to understand themselves, their heritage and traditions, and the world from the perspective of the Christian faith.
Two Seattle Pacific students explain how the courses impacted their faith:
Not Who I Thought I Was
At the end of my freshman year at Seattle Pacific University, I landed wrong on a volleyball block and tore my ACL. The surgery that followed went disastrously wrong, and I almost lost my leg and life. As an SPU volleyball player, in an instant I lost everything I thought I was. Learning how to walk again was painful and hard, but it brought me “to my knees” before God asking questions about his sovereignty and my suffering. Where was he in all my pain? Who was I? Was the gospel still true and applicable for today, or only for church on Sunday morning? Thankfully, I didn’t have to ask these questions alone. I limped to my University Foundations classes searching for truth. My professors met with me after class and went to great lengths to address my questions and aching heart. It was in these classes that I was able to establish a new identity based upon the truth of the Bible and the identity of Christ.
The second course, Christian Scriptures, gave me a new love of reading Scripture. I saw God’s love extended to doubting Thomas, a crippled man, a lost sheep, a straying nation, a blundering disciple, a woman at the well, and me — a university student seeking answers. I loved my University Foundations courses because they helped me establish a new foundation upon the gospel and hope. Even though I still have physical scars on my leg and knee, I’ve realized my identity is not in my ability to play volleyball. It’s found in Christ, who died on a cross and rose to renew the broken. —Taylor Greig, senior
Conversation, Not Indoctrination
When I walked into my first session of University Foundations 1000, the first thing I noticed was the classroom arrangement. Rather than a classic configuration with the desks in rows facing the front, our UFDN class was set up with five different round tables where students faced each other. Once the professor walked into the center of the room and the class began, this arrangement made sense. During the professor’s lecture, we paused three times to turn from the professor and face each other, providing us space to share our own experience and learn from the experience of others.
Along with centering the class on dialog with each other, professors also make the class about discussion between disciplines. In my first UFDN class, we read more novels than theology textbooks, looked at art from such masters as Albrecht Dürer and Masaccio to illustrate concepts about God; and watched the Macklemore video “Wings” to talk about Christian engagement in a materialistic culture. Rather than having a class where only people with the “right” beliefs and backgrounds could bring their perspective, my UFDN classes were able to remain open while maintaining integrity as a class on Christian life, thought, and history. This conversation has opened me up to seeing God not just as someone I meet for two hours once a week, but someone who is seeking us out in surprising places. Even in a Macklemore video. — Jake Crammer, senior
(Originally published in the Autumn 2013 issue of etc magazine.)