What Is a Study Center?

A Common Vision

 
Christian Study Centers encourage honest answers to honest questions. They celebrate the enterprise of learning and value scholarship for the good and useful thing it is. Christian Study Centers regard the local college or university they serve as a friend, a friend with whom they may have deep differences, but a friend nonetheless. Instead of viewing academic discourse as the exercise of power, Christian Study Centers seek to provide an environment in which discussion of the larger questions of philosophy and life takes place from a variety of viewpoints, never eschewing the importance of spirited debate, but equally never forgetting the value of love to the discovery of truth.

The rich variety of organization, programs, strengths and emphases of the Christian Study Centers now in existence and coming into existence in the U.S. and around the world presents a challenge when one tries to articulate a set of core values that set them apart from other institutions. Indeed, the Consortium of Christian Study Centers (CCSC) holds as one of its central principles a respect for the individuality of any particular center. At the same time there are many commitments Study Centers hold in common, all of which flow from a desire to address a familiar challenge.

Study Centers seek to retrieve Christian faith from the margins of academia and academic life by raising tough questions and holding forth counter-cultural challenges to the prevailing zeitgeist. These questions and challenges bear witness to a robust Christian vision of human need and human flourishing. Through a diverse range of activities, from small group discussions to larger seminars, campus-wide lectures, conferences and symposia, from efforts to connect with students to those that serve faculty and administrators, from personal mentoring to retreats, Study Centers have as a common aim the integration of Christian faith and learning with life. In all of their work, they take seriously the nurturing of Christian faith in the context of the contemporary university and the current academic scene.

At the same time as they seek to aid the individual, Christian Study Centers also desire to enter into the institutional life of the university, contributing to the university’s health and progress. Study Centers strive to be servants to the thought-life of the university, standing alongside university departments and organizations in providing lectures and discussions that add to that body of knowledge the university is responsible to provide for our society. Centers also often participate in the social life of the university and serve in many places as important contributors to the university’s efforts to create an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and social health in which true learning can take place.

Core Commitments

 
The broad common vision described above gives birth to a number of core commitments, which CCSC member institutions share. These are:

  • A commitment to Jesus Christ and to the mission of Christ as both servants and witnesses within the world
  • A commitment to the life of the mind and to the integration of faith and learning as crucial areas of Christian discipleship and witness
  • A commitment to the unity of the human person and the treatment of questions of all kinds as important for the development of the human spirit
  • A commitment to the well-being of any local university or college, with whom the Center has either a formal or informal relationship
  • A commitment to public integrity and accountability in all aspects of the Center, including the personal character of the Board and staff, finances, relationships with other organizations, and the relationship with the university or college it serves
  • A commitment to the mission and purposes of the CCSC as described in its vision statement and goals
  • A commitment to the work of the church broadly, without reference to any specific denomination