Engaging the World

Research with tent city 3

Sociology students conducted research with Tent City 3 residents.

Design professor teaches in China, publishes research on Mongolian curriculum

Jaeil Lee, professor and director of the apparel design and merchandising program, taught an intensive course, “Global Apparel Product Development,” at the International Design and Marketing College at Jian Quiao University in Shanghai, China, last summer. In addition, Lee and her colleagues assessed the current textile and apparel curriculum at higher education institutions in Mongolia from both academic and industrial points of view, interviewing both Mongolian professors and industry professionals. Their research paper, “Exploration of Textiles and Apparel Curriculum in Mongolia from the Academia and Industry Perspectives,” was published in Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. 

“Always Reforming” keynote by Soong-Chan Rah a highlight of 16th annual Day of Common Learning

The geographic center of Christianity has shifted, and U.S. Christians haven’t caught up. That was the message Soong-Chan Rah, professor of church growth and evangelism at Chicago’s North Park University, delivered at Seattle Pacific University’s 16th annual Day of Common Learning in September. Rah showed that Christians in the U.S. are following white, Western faith practices while failing to notice that the growing movement of Christianity in the U.S. is occurring among non-white, often immigrant churches. That’s why, he says, 500 years after the Protestant Reformation, evangelicalism needs to reform again, this time to better serve and prioritize the non-white, non-Western Christians who overwhelmingly comprise the global Church. The Day of Common Learning is an annual all-day event in which the University suspends classes and gathers the community together to explore a significant idea or interest.

Soong-Chan Rah spoke at SPU’s Day of Common Learning.

Sociology faculty publish research on homelessness engagement by students 

The presence of a homeless encampment hosted on SPU’s campus this past winter provided an opportunity for students to engage with issues of poverty and inequality. Building from a service-learning model, Professor of Sociology Jennifer McKinney and Associate Professor of Sociology Karen Snedker devised coursework around homelessness and applied research. Students took courses to learn about homelessness and sociological research methods, collecting field observations and conducting interviews with TC3 residents. In their Teaching Sociology article, “Hosting a Tent City: Student Engagement and Homelessness,” McKinney and Snedker found that, over the course of the classes, student stereotypes were challenged and the social distance between students and people who were homeless significantly decreased. “The project allowed students to use their sociological imaginations along with applying the tools of social science,” say McKinney and Snedker. “There is great potential in addressing complex social problems, such as homelessness, through this type of educational experience.” Students reported being transformed by learning about and interacting with the tent city residents, reinforcing the idea that exposure to homelessness through faculty-guided research can foster social change. 

Faculty publishes statement on racial justice

After racially motivated violence erupted in Charlottesville last summer, SPU’s School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University updated and reissued a document declaring its conviction that God is calling American Christians to engage in renewed advocacy on issues of racial justice. The statement was originally created following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (and other shootings), in 2014. The Statement on Racial Justice was signed by theology faculty at four other Free Methodist universities: Azusa Pacific, Greenville, Roberts Wesleyan, and Spring Arbor.