Mount Vernon Nazarene University

2011-2012 Catalog

Statement of General Education Philosophy and Goals

Liberal arts education at Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a holistic approach to faith and learning with the goals of enabling students to think and act like the persons they were created to be and equipping them for a career and life of service to God and humankind in the twenty-first century. This is rooted in the biblical command to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself (Deut. 6:4-8; Matt. 22:37, 38). On this basis we assert that a lifestyle of study, which we define as the pursuit of goodness, truth and beauty, is a sacred calling. We believe that education should be concerned with developing a person’s humanity as one created in the image and likeness of God. We affirm a Wesleyan evangelical worldview as the basis for understanding this humanity both in terms of what we are and what, by God’s grace, we can and should be. We affirm our commitment to the education of the whole person - body, mind, and spirit - through the growth of personhood that results from knowledge and skills dedicated to breadth and integration of understanding and to depth of coverage in the disciplines. Our vision is to work redemptively to address the human predicament as evidenced, for example, in the marginalizing of the intellectual life, failed relationships, moral decay, loss of community, crisis in the church, distortion of imagination in popular media, stunting of creativity in the workplace, and degrading of the natural environment. A Christian liberal arts education should prepare us to assume the rights and responsibilities of citizenship that apply to our native, global, and Christian cultures. We are committed to the appreciation of enduring traditions and values as well as the exploration of the great human questions concerning the nature and meaning of humanity. Through exposure to cultural diversity, we should learn to appreciate others and their values without compromising our values and carry out evangelism without coercion. We believe that the University experience should refine interpersonal knowledge, abilities, and skills crucial to relationships with self, others, and God so that we may be effective change-agents in our communities. We believe that Christian liberal arts education should result in service to the world. In short, we believe that liberal arts education provides a sound foundation for Christian living and one’s calling as summarized in the University motto "To seek to learn is to seek to serve." Thus, the goal of liberal arts education is: to equip students with requisite skill, essential knowledge, and Christ-like virtues to be effective change-agents, citizens, and stewards in the context of the twenty-first century.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s philosophy of education shall be implemented through the following goals for students. While no single course can fulfill every goal, the general education curriculum as a whole should foster:

Goal 1 Integrative Thinking

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Gather, analyze, and synthesize knowledge from within disciplines and between disciplines;
  2. Draw thoughtful, informed conclusions from disparate and complex information;
  3. Apply sound theological thinking to the academic disciplines and to life;
  4. Connect theory with practice.

Goal 2 Critical Thinking

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Recognize and evaluate multiple frameworks and points of view from which thinking is done;
  2. Identify and assess assumptions;
  3. Evaluate the appropriateness of procedures for investigating questions;
  4. Identify and evaluate explanations of cause and correlation;
  5. Evaluate hypotheses for consistency with facts and methodology;
  6. Determine the relevance and reliability of information for evaluating an argument;
  7. Recognize flaws and inconsistencies in an argument;
  8. Establish appropriate inferences and conclusions from information.

Goal 3 Adaptability and Problem Solving

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Evaluate information sources for reliability, validity, and integrity;
  2. Apply sound principles and best practices to novel problems;
  3. Allow new insights from the academic disciplines to inform their theology;

Goal 4 Aesthetic Development

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Understand the interactive influences between artistic expressions and culture (commerce, media, history, politics);
  2. Explain the essential elements of multiple media forms, including originality, creativity, and other aesthetic values;
  3. Interpret and appreciate artistic expression and creative processes from multiple frameworks in a way that is both thoughtful and informed;
  4. Make reasoned and comparative judgments about the overall value of artistic expressions;
  5. Affirm goodness, truth, and beauty in various artistic forms as meaningful expressions of the image and likeness of God.

Goal 5 Citizenship

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Recognize the elements of citizenship;
  2. Assume the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship as change-agents in their communities;
  3. Develop their citizen callings as Christians in local, regional, national, and international contexts;
  4. Appreciate the inherent tension in dual citizenship in the Kingdom of God and in the world.

Goal 6 Service

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Ascertain their gifts and abilities for service to God and others;
  2. Recognize their responsibilities to use their gifts for service to God and others;
  3. Refine their gifts for service to God and humanity;
  4. Practice their gifts in local, regional, national, and international contexts.

Goal 7 Stewardship

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Understand the privileges and responsibilities as stewards of all creation;
  2. Demonstrate stewardship of natural, cultural, and material resources;
  3. Recognize and use their spiritual intellectual and physical gifts in the context of calling;
  4. Nurture and challenge the whole person – body, mind, and spirit.

Goal 8 Diversity

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Understand and value the God-given diversity inherent in gender, race, age, ability, and geographic origin;
  2. Respect people in diverse human cultures, religions, socioeconomic classes, and ethnicities through meaningful engagement;
  3. Apply their God-given callings in culturally diverse environments;
  4. Understand and value the diversity of the natural world.

Goal 9 Christian Worldview

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Identify the key elements and functions of a worldview;
  2. Assess the claims of truth in worldviews;
  3. Develop and articulate an academically informed Christian worldview in general and a Wesleyan-Arminian Holiness perspective in particular;
  4. Understand the personal reformation involved in living out the implications of a Christ-centered worldview.

Goal 10 Christ-Like Character

As demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Identify and analyze central ethical issues that are essential for Christian formation in the twenty-first century;
  2. Assess the validity and truthfulness of personal, familial, communal, and institutional challenges from the perspective of Kingdom ethics;
  3. Attain the appropriate knowledge for virtuous decision-making;
  4. Engage critical ethical thinking from an informed Wesleyan-Arminian perspective centered in the quadrilateral;
  5. Ground ethical thinking in truth known through community;
  6. Live ethically through participative grace.

Institutional Climate and Process Goals

In achieving the climate and process goals, the University endeavors to:

  • Conduct campus business and government in a manner complimentary to all involved, recognizing the dignity and worth of the individual, and in a manner genuinely responsible to campus concerns, allowing for and depending upon significant involvement of administrators, constituency, faculty, staff, students, and trustees;
  • Create and maintain a campus climate that stimulates intellectual rigor, cultural and aesthetic development, and academic integrity;
  • Practice and demonstrate responsible stewardship; and
  • Foster a campus climate committed to the general welfare of individuals and Mount Vernon Nazarene University and to open, candid communication, mutual trust, and respect.