Anthropology & Sociology
United by Faith
We live in a world where differences increasingly cause tensions
between people, groups, and nations. We are divided in many ways
including by race, culture, gender, social class, and religion. This is
true in many parts of the world—Northern Ireland, Palestine/Israel,
Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Burma, and elsewhere—as well as in the cities,
suburbs, and rural towns of the United States.
In order to address this global reality, Bethel
University developed a bachelor's degree in reconciliation
studies that is biblically framed and designed to equip students with knowledge, experience, and skills in
the areas of cultural and
religious diversity, sociology, conflict resolution, spiritual disciplines, social
and economic justice issues (racism, sexism, classism), and related
topics. The academic discipline of reconciliation studies is housed in the department of
anthropology and sociology and significantly influenced by the social
sciences. Reconciliation studies shares some similar curricular content
with disciplines such as peace and justice studies, conflict
transformation, restorative justice, religion and society, and the
like. Since reconciliation studies draws from a number of disciplines
it is multidisciplinary in spirit. What sets reconciliation studies at Bethel University apart from these disciplines is that its core understanding of
reconciliation emerges from a Jesus-centered theological foundation.
The program of reconciliation studies at Bethel University prepares students to lead lives that impact the world of the twenty-first century. Whatever their vocation, a major or minor in reconciliation studies offers students an opportunity to become more proficient in recognizing injustice, addressing conflict, and engaging diversity. With a semester abroad in South Africa, the major can stand alone as a marketable degree for students who plan to serve organizations addressing diversity, international conflict, or a host of other issues facing our world. Students can strategically align minors to further enhance their degree.
A major or minor in reconciliation studies complements any of Bethel University’s many majors (if students choose to double major or add a minor). Students who can resolve conflict and embrace diversity have an advantage in a crowded job market. A business major can demonstrate an awareness of how culture, conflict, and injustice impact the market. A physical education major can show an understanding of the particular dynamics involved in team sports when diversity is present. A nursing major can express how cultural perspectives impact the care of patients. The reconciliation studies program not only prepares students to compete for jobs in their fields of study, it also develops their character, enhances their leadership ability, and expands their world view—it helps them grow to become better people.
The major consists of 34 credits. This includes 22 credits from Bethel University courses plus 12 credits transferred in from courses enrolled in at Cornerstone Christian College in Cape Town, South Africa. The number of credits makes the major well suited for students interested in a double major or adding multiple minors.
Course Description: This course provides an overview of theory and literature in the field, contributing factors leading to the need for reconciliation in our world, and paradigms for reconciliation praxis. It presents biblically-framed principles and processes for moving toward societal reconciliation. Cultural and religious diversity, conflict resolution, spiritual disciplines, social and economic justice issues (racism, sexism, classism), and related subjects are covered. The course utilizes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa as a model for what is possible in other contexts.
Choose one course from:
Course Description: Provides practical peacemaking and reconciliation skills relevant to helping Christians resolve conflict in a healthy, balanced way. Focus on using experiential learning to develop negotiation and mediation skills.
The South Africa term offers a look at one of the few nations in world history that has demonstrated success in the arena of reconciliation. The antiapartheid struggle was understood by most to be a reconciliation movement (most groups were multiracial). The leadership of Nelson Mandela modeled reconciliation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission played a central role in a country-wide process of healing and reconciliation. To live in a society so fresh in its experience that it lives and breathes reconciliation is a unique opportunity for learning and embracing a lifestyle of reconciliation.
A total of six courses are offered during interim and second semester. Students enroll in four existing courses within the Cornerstone Christian College curriculum offered during their first term and study side by side with Cornerstone students. Sitting in a very diverse classroom day by day has many benefits beyond the course content for Bethel students who are majoring in reconciliation studies. The courses selected at Cornerstone are as follows:
The doctrine of humankind is investigated, emphasizing teaching and the theological significance of being created in God's image, what constitutes human nature and the effects of sin upon humanity. In the second part the doctrine of the church, formed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, is investigated, focusing on its nature, ministry and mission. Throughout the course attention is given to the spiritual, ethical and social implications of these doctrines.
The course will introduce students to the primary objectives, some key submissions and the main outcomes of the TRC through readings, review of relevant materials and the interviewing of key people. The class will guide student in their understandings of the role of the TRC and its significance in building a climate for reconciliation in South Africa.
This course reviews several perspectives on community development and the social transformation process. The study covers development as transformation, people-centred development, expanding access to social power, development as responsible well being, and development as a Kingdom response to powerlessness.
Organizational Leadership explores the theory and practice of leadership in the context of the church and other community-based and faith-based organisations.Two classes offered for Bethel students (with instructional support from Cornerstone faculty):
RES201—Introduction to Reconciliation Studies is a prerequisite for the South Africa term.
Course Description: This capstone course would provide a culminating experience to put to use knowledge and skills gained during studies done in the major and the minor. It would also go into much greater depth in preparing students to be leaders who can use the lenses of Christ-centered biblical “reconciliation” theology, critical thinking, multicultural perspectives, social change analysis, and conflict resolution skills. Students would study the theoretical underpinnings of reconciliation studies and the leadership models of reconciliation practice.Prerequisites: Declared major or minor in reconciliation studies and RES201—Introduction to Reconciliation Studies, or permission of the instructor.
The minor consists of 19 credits/six courses—four existing courses as electives (see below) and two core courses.
This elective allows students to examine some aspect of reconciliation in greater detail—how reconciliation operates in society and/or the church.
This elective helps students understand how race, culture, gender, and/or class impact an individual’s or group’s worldview.
This elective provides students with an understanding of injustice and how oppression operates in society through the interplay of power and privilege.
Course Description: Provides practical peacemaking and reconciliation
skills relevant to helping Christians resolve conflict in a healthy,
balanced way. Focus on using experiential learning to develop
negotiation and mediation skills.
The major is presently built around a semester in South Africa and offers a primary focus on issues of race and culture. Other key reconciliation issues facing the world today are gender, class, and religion. The possibility of specific concentrations in these areas is being discussed and considered.