by Caitlyn Wilbur

In the spring of 2016, the Christian Ministries Department at the University of Northwestern—St. Paul initiated a five-year program review. The first phase of curriculum revision was enacted for fall of 2017, and the second phase of the revision is set to begin for the 2018-2019 school year.

The newly revised curriculum consists of five core programs: Youth and Emerging Adult Studies, Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, Intercultural Studies and Nonprofit Leadership. Dale Lemke, department chair and assistant professor of Christian ministries, said, “What we wanted to do in these programs is move in the direction of making them more flexible and transfer friendly.”

The goal in the revisions was to make a way that students can easily transfer into a ministry or add it as a double major. Especially in the Youth and Emerging Adult Studies, Ministry and Intercultural Studies majors, there is a flexible, “create your own concentration” option. Particularly in the Ministry major, there is a new concentration in Worship and Creative Arts. “The second position that is typically hired in a church now is the worship pastor, so we saw an opportunity here to work with the music department,” Lemke said.

“Let’s say you are a student who is interested in Youth and Emerging Adult Studies, but you are really interested in drama. There’s a 20 credit hour concentration within that track where you can design a drama concertation,” Lemke continued, “or maybe you transferred to Northwestern and you started in Environmental Science. We can pull those credits in, and you can pursue a ministry degree with a concentration in environmental studies.”

In addition to making the programs more flexible and transfer friendly, the department will also be introducing two new minors: Nonprofit Leadership and Social Justice. Both of these are 18 credit hour minors that anyone of any major can add.

Finally, the department has revamped the dual degree in Pastoral Ministry (BA) that leads to a Master of Divinity (M. Div.). Lemke said, “Students are allowed to start taking their master’s degree during their undergraduate studies.” With this dual degree, students are able to earn 38 credits towards their master’s degree while still an undergraduate. The students would graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry, and they will only have half of their master’s degree left to finish. “It’s a super win-win. You save 50% of your tuition on your graduate degree and you finish in half the time,” said Lemke. Essentially, this newly revamped dual degree offers students the chance to save a huge amount of time and money.

These new changes mark an exciting season for the Christian ministries department, and in particular, there is an emphasis of cultural engagement in this newly designed curriculum. “Christ is calling us to go make a difference in our world and interpret the cultures in which we live…we need to know how to live in the world, act in the world, and communicate those Biblical truths,” Lemke concludes. These newly revamped, more flexible majors and curriculum offer that chance.

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