Philosophy of Undergraduate Education
To fulfill personal and vocational goals, Columbia International University offers a variety of academic programs, with Bible as the core of each. To understand the Bible it is necessary to know its content, understand its meaning, and apply the truth of the Scripture so that it changes patterns of thinking and behavior. Skill in observing, interpreting, and applying God’s Word is necessary. Bible surveys, book studies, topical Bible studies (e.g. theology), and Bible-related subjects are designed with these purposes in mind. To develop skill in the use of the Bible, tools for study and communication are learned and used in such courses as hermeneutics and homiletics. However, to make Christ known in the full sense of the word, it is necessary not only to study the Bible and Bible-related subjects, but to know and communicate well with the people to whom we make Christ known.
There are at least two reasons that study in the areas of general education is essential. First, study in the disciplines included in general education helps students to become the fully-formed, creative, reasoning, social beings that God designed us to be. Through this we enter into richer relationships with God and other people. The second reason for the importance of general education is that it helps students develop the ability to communicate Christ effectively. As fully-formed people, students will have the Biblical worldview, the reasoning skills, and the social and historical perspective that will enable them to reach others.
The objectives of our undergraduate programs express specific ways in which we endeavor to accomplish our mission through helping students to develop in spiritual maturity, Bible knowledge, ministry skills, and general education. We take our mission and objectives seriously and have taken care to state these objectives in terms that facilitate assessment. We conduct specific assessment activities each year and the results guide the institutional planning process, enabling us to make improvements.
Focused on Spiritual Formation*
Graduating students should demonstrate a growing intimacy in their relationship with God, as evidenced in the areas of worship, prayerfulness, and faith. Graduating students should demonstrate a biblical understanding of themselves rooted in Christ, as evidenced in the areas of confidence, self-discipline, and stability. Graduating students should demonstrate a growing relationship with the body of Christ as evidenced in the areas of community, unity, and submission. Graduating students should demonstrate a growing maturity in personal relationships as evidenced in the areas of purity, faithfulness, and servanthood. Graduating students should demonstrate a desire to serve God fully as they engage the world as evidenced in the areas of eternal perspective, conviction, and perseverance.
*The faculty recognizes that spiritual formation may be defined in various ways. After careful consideration, in 2005 the faculty defined spiritual formation as: “The divinely ordained transformational process by which the Holy Spirit leads believers to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ through the Word of God and by that relationship become progressively freer from sin and more like Christ. The Spirit’s formative work occurs in the context of a vital engagement with a community of believers.”
Focused on Bible Knowledge
Graduating students should demonstrate basic understanding of the content and composition of the biblical revelation of God’s plan of salvation and program of redemption, including a basic grasp of the content, principles of interpretation, and theological teaching of the Bible. Graduating students will demonstrate a thorough understanding of the biblical standards, principles, and provisions for Christ-like living.
Graduating students should demonstrate a basic grasp of the biblical mandate for world evangelization and the role and responsibility of each individual believer and local church.
Focused on Professional Competencies and Skills
Graduating students should evidence identification and understanding of their spiritual gifts and abilities and evidence ability to use them effectively.
Graduating students should evidence integration of the cognitive aspects of learning with affective and behavioral aspects by demonstrating competence in development of ministry strategies, development and use of ministry materials, and adequate skill in methods and media of presentation appropriate to their individual academic specialization and vocational goals.
Graduating students should demonstrate development in and adequate reflection of traits and skills for spiritual leadership such as commitment to the biblical priority of world evangelization, personal involvement in evangelizing the lost and promoting righteousness, justice and mercy in society, dependability, creativity, initiative, and vision, and a servant attitude in their ministry skills and internship experiences.
Graduating students should demonstrate technical and human service skills by completing internships or other forms of direct service under professional supervision in their programs.
Focused on General Education
Graduating students should evidence development in formation of a biblical worldview, which provides a framework for interpreting, integrating, and assimilating truth from various realms of revelation and human inquiry.
Graduating students should demonstrate improved achievement and proficiency parallel to that of students of comparable academic aptitude nationally in developing intellectual skills, including proficiency in written and oral communication, problem solving, and clarifying values. Graduating students should demonstrate improved achievement and proficiency parallel to that of students of comparable academic aptitude nationally in general educational content areas, including functioning within social institutions, using mathematical data, using science and technology, and using the arts. Graduating students should evidence commitment to the practice of lifelong learning.
Leadership Skill Development
Principles for leadership, spiritual transformation, and ministry formation are not found within a single discipline or course at CIU. Leadership development for believers is inter-disciplinary and requires balance between knowledge, skill development, and life experiences.
All servant-leaders need to know the Lord, themselves, and how to relate positively to others, understand and appreciate the uniqueness of others and their cultures, understand Scripture (including the creation mandate and the Great Commission) understand the nature of Christ’s Church, love one another, appreciate and steward God’s creation, and do business ethically with others.
Leadership is expressed in multiple settings. Each graduate will face differing leadership responsibilities in the home, local churches, vocational settings, and the community where the student lives. In the context of Scripture, each servant-leader can live and lead victoriously because “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3). To this end, the focus of the first two years of a student’s bachelor’s degree program emphasizes biblical studies, general education courses, and CSL opportunities.
CIU encourages churches to utilize students in a variety of ways. Local churches will encourage students to participate in evangelism-related opportunities, age-graded discipleship and Bible teaching-related opportunities, mission outreach, and other areas as well. Our commitment is to encourage students to build faithful relationships within a local body of Christ. We encourage students to develop a long-term relationship with a church.
The second-year goal is for students to continue a relationship within the local church and, if appropriate to the student’s gifting and goals, allow students greater freedom to choose a Christian Service Learning opportunity within the broader community.
During the final two years of a bachelor’s degree program, the focus will be knowledge and practical skill development associated with the professional major and/or minors the student selects. This knowledge is applied in practicum, internship, and other practical skill development opportunities within the community. Each servant-leader has opportunities to participate in student-led leadership on campus and within the community, including practical opportunities within small groups among peers, chapel, student organizations, and local churches.
Chapel, Conferences, and Local Church Experience
Every undergraduate student is expected to regularly attend a local church. We encourage serious commitment and involvement as a college student in order to develop the habits and commitments necessary to function as a servant-leader in a church setting. Local churches provide opportunities for students to gain leadership experience.
Each undergraduate student is also expected to regularly attend and participate in campus chapel. Chapels provide opportunities for students to gain leadership experience. Chapel attendance is a non-credit degree requirement and is documented each semester as a Pass or Fail.
Special conferences, prayer days, and other events are scheduled throughout the school year to help integrate faith and practice. These events also provide opportunities for students to gain leadership experience.
Christian Service Learning (CSL)
Christian aspect: Students will express their worldview and values as a Christian serving within a local church. The student may also serve their local church through service in the community. Students should regularly attend and participate with other believers within a local church.
Service aspect: Students will become a servant of others. Jesus is our role model for service. He selflessly provided and cared for those in need without any expectation of reward or benefit to Himself. Each student should grow in the ability to serve 1) following the Lord’s instruction (Mark 10:35-45), 2) (John 13:1-17), and 3) (Philippians 2:1-11).
Learning aspect: Students will be intentional in this hands-on approach to learning, preparing a learning contract, practicing self-reflection, and seeking constructive advice from others. Students should mature in their competence, confidence, and character, expressing a commitment to glorify God by serving God in and through the local church.
CSL objectives include: regularly attending and participating in a local church, growing in the ability to serve following the example of our Lord, and maturing in competence, confidence, and character by serving through the church. Students transferring in 30 or more hours will have one semester of CSL waived. Students transferring in 45 or more hours will have two semesters of CSL waived. Students transferring in 60 or more hours will have three semesters of CSL waived.