Since its establishment in 1982, Redeemer University’s vision has been to offer a post-secondary liberal arts and sciences education that is “unabashedly Christ-centred and prepares students to reflect a distinctive worldview in any vocation and place they are called.” To that end, it is imperative that faculty members across all disciplines are committed to and passionate about exemplifying Christ’s message in their beliefs, character and classroom material. For two new faculty members, it is exactly the opportunity they have been looking for.
“Higher education from a Christian perspective has a really appealing holism that involves pursuing education as an expression of your faith,” says Dr. David Hoekman, associate professor of biology. “I grew up going to Christian schools and attending Reformed churches, so coming to Redeemer felt like returning to my theological home.”
Hoekman comes to Redeemer after teaching at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma, where he says he truly came to appreciate the value of Christian education. His faith is now something that consciously informs his teaching and research.
“Having the basis that God created the world really changes your perspective on how you view the sciences,”
“I definitely think about general revelation and teaching and research as a way to learn about God by studying his creation. It also motivates me to serve God and my neighbour in terms of creation care through stewardship of the environment.”
Dr. Byul Gloria Kim also started teaching at Redeemer this fall as an assistant professor of health sciences. Like Hoekman, she also views studying the sciences as a glimpse into God’s masterful plan behind creation.
“I love working with students and seeing their fresh perspectives, openness and optimism.”
“Having the basis that God created the world really changes your perspective on how you view the sciences,” she says. “When I approach my methods and research, I try to think of it as the discovery of what God has created already and not finding something new myself. Faith always becomes the basis of what I do.”
Seeing God’s influence as an intrinsic part of the scientific method is, ultimately, what attracted both professors to their individual positions. Rather than assuming a separation between faith and academics, the two are inextricably bound through Redeemer’s mission to seek and live out Christ’s sovereignty in and through all things.
“That’s kind of the approach I take, that faith, life and learning are all linked very closely,” says Hoekman. “It’s so refreshing not to have to divide up my spiritual life from my professional life, it’s all a very combined thing. As far as the formation of post-secondary students goes, that’s also really appealing because I love working with students and seeing their fresh perspectives, openness and optimism.”
In addition to echoing Hoekman’s sentiments when it comes to Redeemer’s mission and her personal faith background, Kim also stated that she is excited about the opportunity to learn from seasoned faculty members.
“I want to learn how other faculty members are teaching their courses in the scope of Christianity and how they’re impacting students in the sciences,” she explains. “So, I think that’s the main reason why I made the transition to Redeemer.”
As they embark on their first fall semester, Hoekman and Kim look forward to taking these dearly held ideas and putting them into practice in the classroom.
“I’ll try my best to impart this worldview to the students and incorporate my faith and values when I prepare my lectures. Even when I’m putting PowerPoint slides together, I think about Redeemer’s mission,“ says Kim. “In the classroom itself, I’m also going to try my best to interact with students and answer any questions they have about faith and the sciences.”
“I’m really excited about doing field-based labs that provide an opportunity to get outside and experience God’s creation together,” says Hoekman, “I’m also teaching a core course, and am looking forward to teaching students about the ways that faith and science overlap and work through any conflicts that might arise. A faith-based university is definitely the right setting for these conversations to take place.”