A New Approach to Undergraduate Education


Today, we continue to share a bit about the new undergraduate program that is available through the Kairos Project. For our friends, supporters, and alumni, undergraduate education is an important part of this institution. In 1967, the North American Baptist Conference officially recognized North American Baptist College (the previous name for Taylor Seminary) as the official undergraduate training institution for the entire denomination.

For many years, North American Baptist College served students from across the North American Baptist Conference and particularly people located in Alberta. When the college programs were closed in 2008, there was a deep sense of loss across the denomination as a whole and particularly within the Alberta Baptist Association. Training young people for service in the kingdom mission had long been an important aspect of this institution. 

Today, as a result of the schools uniting under Kairos, we are excited to offer a fresh expression of undergraduate education. We are now able to function as a North American Baptist college and seminary that provides educational opportunities from bachelor degrees all the way through to research doctoral degrees. This new degree will launch in fall 2020 and will be accredited by one of the largest and most influential accreditation systems in North America. As such, students in this program can be assured that they will not only receive high-quality education but also know it will be recognized around the world as such. 

College is an important time in one's developmental journey. We believe that a fresh expression of undergraduate education is required if we are to adequately prepare students to thrive in their vocations. It is for this reason that we are taking a different approach to undergraduate education. Bachelor's degrees in both Canada and the United States are designed around concepts that assume a certain reality that is quickly fading. In some cases, this is more pronounced in the US than it is in Canada. But even in Canada, there is rising concern about how programs are not designed to meet students where they are. We think there is a better, and more affordable, way to walk alongside students in this journey. 

Each semester, students (whether on campus or online) will travel through three types of learning pathways - each designed to integrate vocation, faith, and context.  One pathway is comprised of weekly small group cohort sessions led by faculty who also serve as mentors to students in the program.  Another avenue for learning comes through online pathways designed to encourage students to work with a mentor team on projects that are relevant to their vocations and contexts.  For example, if a student is pursuing a career as a software engineer, the pathways can be customized to account for that.  If a student is planning to be a pastor, the pathways can be adapted to that vocation.  These adaptations happen under the direction of a faculty-led mentor team.  Finally, all students will come together once per term for a Kairos Gathering.  Gatherings are a learning pathway designed to help students reflect on case studies from their contexts. Throughout the program, students can work with their mentor teams to adapt assignments, pursue passions, and create a portfolio of work developed in the crucible of real-life, not the classroom. 

While developing this customized learning journey, students will have the opportunity to engage in learning opportunities from 1) institutions around the world, 2) partner organizations that work in areas ranging from software development to pastoral ministry to accounting and more, and 3) immersive international experiences on four different continents. 

Put simply, this program is designed to meet people where they are and help them get to where God is calling them to be. 

You can read more about it by looking at Sioux Falls Seminary's article that is posted here.

 

New Program Responds to Needs of Others

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, which means it can feel a bit odd to talk about new and exciting things happening within the Kairos Project. With wage subsidy programs, deferred deadlines for tax payments, and various subsidies for industries, several individuals, churches, non-profits, and businesses are surveying their options for weathering this season. Indeed, we are in the midst of paradigmatic change. As citizens of the Kingdom, we believe it is important to find ways to walk alongside those God places in our care. This is true on both an individual and institutional level.

Throughout the network of partners within Kairos, we are seeing people provide things like: telemental health services so people can continue meeting with counselors despite shelter-in-place orders, prayer and support for students who are losing jobs or facing challenges in their congregations, or help being extended to partners around the world.

In many ways, that desire to be responsive was the original catalyst behind the launch of the Kairos Project. In the very first article that Sioux Falls Seminary posted on the Project in 2014, Greg Henson shared that traditional approaches to education had, in many instances, created a system of theological education that was prohibitively expensive, lacked integration, and was disconnected from day-to-day life and ministry. The same had happened in Canada, which led to Taylor's commitment to join Kairos as a legacy partner. 

In short, we sought to develop something that was affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful.

Over the past two weeks, we have shared a few articles about this exciting endeavor. First we announced our union with Sioux Falls Seminary and then a launch of a global network of theological education. Today we continue to share about what God is doing and how we are responding to those around us. 

Beginning this fall, students will be able to pursue undergraduate degrees through the Kairos Project that are accredited by the same organization that accredits degrees for places like Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, and others.  We will share much more about the program next week, but allow us to share a few highlights today.

1) The program can be completed from anywhere in the world.

2) Tuition is $300 USD/month - this means the cost of tuition will be nearly 25% lower than the average price of a bachelor's degree in Canada.

Come back next week to hear more about the program's design, the unique opportunities it provides, and how you can join us as we lean into this new initiative. If you'd like to read a bit more today, feel free to jump over to Sioux Falls Seminary's website. They posted an article here.

The Future of Kairos Begins Today

Today, we are excited to announce the next chapter of the Kairos Project. By God’s grace, what began as an experiment in 2014 has become a global network of theological education! Joining the union of Taylor and Sioux Falls Seminaries announced last week are Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, PA and Biblical Life Institute (BLI) in Freeport, PA. 

In this formal union all schools will come together to be governed by the same board and will share one accreditation, one staff, one faculty, and one mission. At the same time, we will honor the history and heritage of each institution. Each school, with its new partners, will continue accomplishing what it always has, which is preparing men and women for service in the kingdom of God. Instead of going into the future alone, the schools will be co-laborers in God’s vineyard as they leverage the Kairos Project to offer affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful theological education around the world.

By coming together, the schools will be larger than 90% of the accredited seminaries in North America with students originating from six continents and over 40 different denominations, programs in multiple languages, the second largest military chaplain program in the United States, and degree programs ranging from associates and bachelor degrees to research doctoral degrees.

Over the past 18 months, as this union has been coming together, much work has been put into enhancing the ways that partners can participate in the Kairos Project. As a result, as the next chapter begins today, there are already 35 affiliate partner organizations who are a part of Kairos. As legacy partners, Taylor, Sioux Falls, Evangelical, and BLI have combined their resources to expand what is possible through Kairos.

Going forward, the Kairos Project will offer innovative approaches to collaboration that will empower partners from around the world to develop servants for participation in the Kingdom mission. Comprised of schools, churches, ministries, and other kingdom-minded organizations, Kairos will share resources, ideas, and learning in order to make the Christ-centered development of people more affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful.

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to post exciting news about this momentous announcement – including information about a bachelor’s degree that costs only $300 per month, a counseling degree that can be completed from anywhere in North America, a first-of-its-kind Doctor of Theology program, a military chaplain program that is creating new pathways for students, a library with over 600,000 volumes, and an opportunity to THRiVE! in ministry.

Moving Forward Together

Announcing the Union of Taylor Seminary and Sioux Falls Seminary:

Stepping Boldly into the Future

Taylor Seminary and Sioux Falls Seminary are stepping boldly into the future of theological education by coming together to create a first-of-its-kind, bi-national system of theological education.  

After nearly five years of ever-deepening partnership, Taylor and Sioux Falls are entering a formal union wherein both schools will be governed by the same board and will share one accreditation, one staff, one faculty, and one mission. 

Through this union, the institutions will leverage the Kairos Project to provide affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful journeys of discipleship that can lead to certificates and degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. 

What is the Kairos Project?

With over 500 students, 1,000 mentors, and nearly 70 faculty members spread out across four continents, 30 countries, 4 provinces, and 30 states, the Kairos Project has become one of the largest, most diverse, and most innovative systems of accredited theological education in the world. 

Students in the Kairos Project engage in a journey of discipleship that prepares them to thrive in their vocations as they join God on mission. People from all walks of life are engaged in Kairos. Pastors, lawyers, doctors, nonprofit executives, fighter pilots, missionaries, church planters, and more are pursuing degrees that were once out of reach for them. Through this union, Taylor and Sioux Falls will expand the opportunities available through the Kairos Project. In fact, a fully- accredited bachelor’s degree and a research-level doctoral degree will be available starting this fall!

One Mission, Renewed Heritage 

Looking toward the future, Taylor and Sioux Falls Seminaries are grateful for the work God has done in and through them. The schools will faithfully honor the past as they fully appreciate and embrace the future God has in store. The unique heritage and identity of both schools will continue to be honored and celebrated even as God calls Taylor and Sioux Falls forward into a remarkable new journey. 

One way to honor the past is by retaining both institutions. In Canada, business will continue to be done as Taylor Seminary and in the United States as Sioux Falls Seminary. Faithful followers of Jesus have invested much time, energy, and resources in both of these institutions. It is important to remember this heritage and bring it forward into the future. 

Another way of honoring the past is through a commitment to offer undergraduate education once again. The vision is to launch an undergraduate program that is affordable, accessible from anywhere around the world, relevant to a student’s vocation, and faithful to the unshakeable truth of God’s word. The prayer is that this opens doors that have been closed for many years. Through this union, the seminaries are a bi-national system of education, a North American Baptist college and seminary, that can serve the North American Baptist (NAB) Conference. 

While honoring the past, the schools are fully embracing the future. God has much in store. Taylor and Sioux Falls are excited to be moving forward together, united around God’s mission, their NAB heritage, and their shared passion for serving the Body of Christ. 

Exciting Next Steps

As an exciting first step, the seminaries will launch the Kairos Development Network, an innovative approach to collaboration wherein partners from around the world can work together to develop servants for participation in the Kingdom mission. Comprised of schools, churches, ministries, and other kingdom-minded organizations, the Network will share resources, ideas, and learning in order to make the Christ-centered development of people more affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful. More information about the Network’s first partners will be announced next week!

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on what is happening at Taylor and Sioux Falls, please subscribe to periodic email updates here.

More Information

This article has also been published on the Taylor Seminary (taylor-edu.ca/union) and Sioux Falls Seminary (sfseminary.edu/union) websites. If you have questions or would like to talk with someone at one of the seminaries, please contact David Williams at Taylor Seminary (david.williams@taylor-edu.ca) or Greg Henson at Sioux Falls Seminary (ghenson@sfseminary.edu).