Now more than ever, our culture needs strong Christian thinkers to participate in the public forum, to shape and influence it for God’s Kingdom. To help with that, the Redeemer Centre for Christian Scholarship has been established to give scholars a place and a vehicle to explore these important issues. The Centre will encourage and enable Christian scholars to participate in the cultural, political, and social conversations of our day, answering the questions our neighbours are actually asking.
“It’s basically the eHarmony of Christian academics and public impact,” is Dr. Robert Joustra’s tongue-in-cheek explanation. As Director of the new centre, Joustra knows that the academic talent pool at Redeemer runs deep, and he wants others to know it, too.
The Centre is the first major component of the Redeemer 2020 Strategic Plan, which was also launched this week. Background work on the Centre has been underway for almost a year, ever since Redeemer was awarded seed money for the project in a grant from Stronger Together. There are several ways that the Centre will encourage these connections and relationships. For example, it will support the work of Redeemer faculty by awarding up to $25,000 in grants each year. To be known as the Zylstra Grants, they will be awarded for original and existing work that contributes to the common good and that will be shared through public channels, such as op-eds, popular publications, major talks, media interviews, and public exhibitions.
The Centre for Christian Scholarship also aims to connect Redeemer faculty, students, and staff with leading Christian public thinkers through an annual conference, co-hosted with Edifide. In October 2015, more than 800 educators, cultural leaders, and public intellectuals will come together to discuss the theme, “Purpose, Power, Potential.” Several presenters, including keynote speakers Andy Crouch and Karen Swallow Prior, will explore how power, when it is God-given, enables us to do justice and create beauty to further His Kingdom.
Also addressing the Conference will be the first recipient of the Centre’s Emerging Public Intellectual Award. This award, which includes a $5,000 prize, will be given to a rising scholar working in a Christian university or college, someone who is demonstrably engaged in making a public impact. The Award is sponsored by some of North America’s leading Christian think tanks: Cardus, the Acton Institute, and Center for Public Justice. This prestigious award has been put in place to celebrate public engagement from the Christian academy. And celebration is what it’s about. As Joustra says of eHarmony, “Nobody cares about the algorithms or the web portals. They care about the pictures of happy couples. This Centre is going to make happy couples of outstanding Christian scholarship and demonstrated public impact. The Centre is the matchmaker bringing Redeemer faculty and the evangelization of culture together.”
Redeemer University College is excited about the work that Dr. Joustra and his staff are doing, their plans and for the impact this will have on our society at large.