The presidents of the Church of the Brethren-related colleges and Bethany Theological Seminary met in August with representatives of Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) at Bethany’s Richmond, Ind., campus. The college and seminary presidents serve as the BCA Board of Directors.
The group included Mell Bolen, who became president of BCA on July 1, and Henry Brubaker, chief financial officer. Bolen is the former director of the Office of International Programs at Brown University. This was the first meeting of the group since she was named president.
The agenda centered on future initiatives for BCA. A new core course for all students who participate in BCA will discuss social justice in a global context and include cross-cultural theory. “It will not be simply another international relations course,” said Bolen, “but will combine the best of BCA’s history and core vision with educational practice and theory.” Another goal is to create new education sites in the developing world, where students will experience a nuanced view of the complexity of global issues.
Bolen believes that cross-cultural experiences are increasingly important for quality higher education. “This generation lives life in a global context,” she explained. Students “will not be able to effectively address the critical issues that they face such as the environment, immigration, and ethnic identity unless they can discuss them in an informed way. BCA is one of the best programs because of its long history, and commitment to promote international understanding and academic excellence in a coordinated and conscious way.”
BCA works with more than 100 colleges and universities, but Church of the Brethren distinctions such as peace and social justice guide day-to-day operations. “These core values lend themselves to BCA’s mission,” said Bolen, “and provide the foundation for the faculty as they serve a broad range of students.”
A third initiative under discussion is the development of short-term or intensive educational experiences. Bethany president Eugene Roop noted that this option could lead to increased involvement of Bethany students in the BCA program. “Bethany students need to engage in a cross-cultural course that features both study and direct engagement,” he said. “BCA can provide many more of such contexts than Bethany could provide alone.”
For more about Brethren Colleges Abroad go to http://www.bcanet.org/. For more about the Brethren colleges and seminary go to www.brethren.org/links/relcol.htm.