The evolution of intercultural studies

January 30, 2013

This is a guest post

Intercultural studies have essentially been around since man walked the foundations of the earth. It has been a part of survival, as well as development and growth, and even just curiosity to learn about other cultures or people. The 19th century saw anthropologists like Morgan and Taylor, and in more recent years George Murdock. But as schools continue to train individuals to work in the field of intercultural studies, they too need to be aware of their surrounding culture and how education and training is changing to reach people.

Intercultural Studies at Biola University and Cornerstone

Biola is a reputable university in La Mirada, California that offers a Biblically centered education. Cornerstone does the same, and both of these schools offer Christian ministry degrees. They also have popular programs for intercultural studies at their Cook School specially dedicated to intercultural studies. The goal of their program is to prepare students to live, communicate, and “work effectively in culturally diverse contexts”. The program consists of certifications, various Maters and Ph.D. level degrees. Unfortunately though, it appears the only online course they offer is a M.A. in TESOL.

Hope International University

Hope International University is a traditional brick and mortar school in Fullerton, California but it also offers complete online degrees. One of those degrees is their B.S. in Intercultural Studies which was designed for students and working professionals “seeking cross-cultural ministry and leadership skills”. Their online courses include an interactive environment through video lectures, discussion threads, and they give the students the flexibility of doing the work and turning in assignments any time of the day or night.

Liberty University Global Studies

Liberty University does not offer an undergraduate degree online; however they do have a Masters of Arts in Global Studies. The training at Liberty prepares students for “exposure to the realities of culture, worldview, and world religions”. Some of the potential career options they highlight with this course are:

·         Cross-cultural missionaries

·         Missions agency leaders

·         Missions pastors

·         Church planters

The Current State of Online Education

A report by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals that for nearly a decade now every year the number of people who enroll in online courses has increased. The “Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011” showed 6.1 million people took at least one class online during the fall of the previous year. US News and World Report stated “the growth of online education far exceeds the growth of higher education overall” with enrollment in higher education going up .6% over the prior year and online enrollment up 9.6%. They went on to say that 65% of all chief academic officers said that online education is, and would be, “critical to the long-term strategy”.

Why Offer Online Education

Technology is changing how we do everything these days including communication and education. Not too long ago online education was looked at as a lesser quality degree, but all of that is changing. A 2009 study from the Department of Education found that student who took online courses performed better, on average, than student s who took the same class through traditional in-classroom learning. Ed Tech Magazine showed that 64% of full-time faculty at community colleges teaches distance courses, as well as 35% of the part-time professors.

It can be a fairly easy transition to offering classes online through video, pod casts, and other social media connections. And colleges and universities are going to have to realize that to stay relevant in the coming years they are going to have to adapt.

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