Christian-Affiliated Universities Equipping Business Students Biblical...

Christian-Affiliated Universities Equipping Business Students Biblical...

Are Christian-Affiliated Universities Equipping
Business Students from a Biblical Perspective?

Richard E. Corum

Introduction

            The mission statement of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) states among its goals to “advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth”.1  Although varied from one Christian-affiliated university to the next, the mission and purpose statements all have a common theme, some incorporation of Christian values with environment or centeredness as the key.  As examples, the School of Business and Economics at Campbellsville University states as its objective “…present collegiate programs in business disciplines, based upon a strong liberal arts foundation delivered in a Christian environment.”2  Whereas the mission statement of Dallas Baptist University reads: “The purpose … is to provide Christ-centered quality higher education in the arts, sciences, and professional studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to traditional age and adult students in order to produce servant leaders who have the ability to integrate faith and learning through their respective callings.”3  Additionally, the mission of Anderson University “is to educate for a life of faith and service in the church and society.”4  These statements reveal the driving principle of a “Christian” institution of higher learning and distinguish each in purpose from non-Christian (state and private) colleges and universities.

Arthur Holmes has noted that,

            “The essential matters of Faith and the critical matters of the Business academy are often described as two distinct spheres of knowledge.  One position views these two spheres as completely unrelated, such as it is in error to study one in conjunction with the other.  These can range from relatively as hoc tangential affiliation, to more continuous and systematic level of association.  However, these concepts are conjunctive models, and are often mistaken for the true integration of faith and learning.”5

Holmes recognized that faith and learning generally interact, but are rarely truly nitrated.

            The idea of incorporating Christian principles into higher education is palatable to most everyone involved with Christian-affiliated colleges and universities.  The question becomes how and when to incorporate these principles.  Many colleges and universities who identify themselves as “Christian” take a two-fold approach.  In these there is the religious side of the university which will offer chapel/convocation services, mission trips and seek financial support from churches.  Then there is the academic side which offers classes in the same form and fashion as the state run and other private institutions, with no mention of Christian principles.

            In his article “The Challenge for Christian Higher Education,” Michael Duduit challenges Christian colleges and universities to become Christ-centered universities.6  His prescription for the Christ-centered university is to expose and instruct students to incorporate Christian principles into the practice of their chosen discipline.  The Christ-centered university needs to be charged with training Christian leaders in their field.

            Duduit suggests that students attending Christian universities be Christian through and through, classrooms, locker
rooms, dorm rooms, boardrooms all must reflect the Christian principles spoken about in the institution's catalog.7

Research Questions

            It seems fair to say that a vast majority of administrators and board members at Christian-affiliated universities recognize the necessity of incorporating Christian principles.  The first question that emerges from this study is “do business faculty members see the need to incorporate Christian principles in their business classes?”  If the answer to this question is “no” then no further research in this area is necessary though this would be indicative of a problem between the faculty and administration, and the institution's mission goal.  The hypothesis drawn from this question is:

H1: Business faculty members at Christian universities see a need for integrating Christian principles into their classes.

N1: Business faculty members at Christian universities see no need for integrating Christian principles into their classes

            If business faculty members see value in incorporating Christian principles into their classes, are these faculty members already incorporating these principles?  The hypothesis for this research question is:

H2: Business faculty members at Christian universities are currently incorporating Christian principles into their business classes.

N2: Business faculty members at Christian universities are not currently incorporating Christian principles into their business classes.

            Is it possible for professors to see value in incorporating Christian principles into their business classes but do not know how to do that?  The third question addresses this issue.  The hypothesis for this question is:

H3: Faculty members at Christian universities do not know how to incorporate Christian principles into their business classes.

N3: Faculty members at Christian universities do know how to incorporate Christian principles into their business classes.

Methodology and Response

            A survey was developed by this researcher and posted to a website in 2010.  A letter was emailed to the chair/dean of the Business departments at thirty randomly-selected Christian-affiliated colleges and universities throughout the United States using the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities member list.  Chairs and deans were asked to distribute the invitation to participate in the survey to their entire full-time faculty.  There were 200 completed surveys submitted between February 15 and March 1, 2010.

Population Statistics

            Of the 200 business faculty members who participated in this survey, 144 of the respondents were male (72%) and 54 were female (27%).  The frequency of respondents by denomination can be seen below in Table 1.

Table 1: Denominational Breakdown of the Population

 Denomination  Respondents  % of Sample
 Baptist  56  28
 Catholic  34  17
 Evangelical  28  14
 Lutheran  22  11
 Protestant  14  7
 Christian  12  6
 Methodist  6  3
 Church of Christ  6  3
 Assemblies of God  6  3
 Non-Denominational  14  7

            Other relevant demographic data was also collected.  Demographic categories included gender (as discussed above), age, and length of service at the institution.  The age demographic break down reflected 8 (4%) faculty members in the age range of the 30's, 58 respondents were in their 40's, and 23% of the respondents reported being 60 or above (see Table 2 below).

Table 2: Length of Service

 Years at University  Respondents % of Sample 
 0-5  54  26
 6-11  45  23
 12-15  28  14
 16-20  34  17
 Over 20  38  19

Hypothesis 1

            Business faculty members at Christian universities see a need for integrating Christian principles into their classes is the first hypothesis of this study.  Data for this hypothesis was gathered through five survey elements.  The survey asked if “incorporating Christian principles in your business class is important to you,” a question which garnered 73% agreement.  A 76% majority of respondents agreed with the statement “I think it is important to incorporate Christian principles into business classes” (see Table 3).  When asked if “it is unprofessional to incorporate Christian principles into business courses, 87% disagreed, 2% agreed and 11% were not sure.

Table 3: Cross-Tab of Denomination and Importance of Christian Principles

 Denomination

 Respondents
Replying No %

 % of Sample
 Baptist  12  42
 Catholic  8  28
 Lutheran  4  14
 Other Protestant  2  7
 Non-Denominational  2  7
   Not Sure  
 Lutheran  12  60
 Catholic  8  40

            Item 10 on the survey stated “Christian principles do not belong in a business classroom.  There were 170 survey respondents disagreeing with this statement, while another 18 responding “not sure.”  Of those responding “not sure,” 8 were at Lutheran-affiliated schools (44%), 6 were at Catholic (33%) and two each (11%) from Baptist and Church of Christ.  Twelve respondents (6%) agreed with the statement “Christian Principles do not belong in a business classroom.”  Six were from Catholic universities (50%), 4 from Lutheran (33%), and 2 (17%) from universities in other Protestant denominations.

            One survey element read  “Is  incorporating  Christian principles in your business class important to you.”  A positive 73% responded yes while 17% responded no and 10% responded they were not sure.  The comparative responses to the question of the importance of incorporating Christian principles into businesses class by discipline can be found in Table 4.

Table 4: Cross-Tab of Discipline and Importance of Christian Principles

 

   Respondents
Replying
 Respondents
   Not Sure  Replying No
 Discipline  No   %  No   %
 Accounting  7      35  14    42
 Economics  5      25  12    35
 Marketing  4      20  4      11
 MIS  2      10  4      11
 Management  2      10  0      0

Hypothesis 2

            Hypothesis 2 reads “Business faculty members at Christian universities are currently incorporating Christian principles into their business classes.”  Eight survey questions addressed hypothesis 2.  Survey element 1 asked “Do you teach your business class differently than if you taught at a secular school?”  Nearly 60% (118) of those participating responded that they did teach differently than if at a secular school.  Table 5 presents those who did not teach differently cross tabulated with the denomination of their school.

Table 5: Cross-Tab of Denomination and Teaching Differently than Secular

 Denomination  Respondents
Replying No
 % in Denomination
 Lutheran  18  81
 Catholic  26  76
 Assembly of God  4  66
 Evangelical  4  50
 Other Protestant  2  40
 Baptist  25  39
 Non-Denominational  4  28

            A total of 74% of female professors responding (40) and 25% of male professors (36) do not teach their business courses differently than if they were at a secular school.  Less than one quarter (24%) of business faculty at Christian universities start each class session with a public prayer or scripture verse.

            A total of 82 instructors at Christian universities acknowledged that they teach their class no differently than if they were at a secular university.  Over one third of those faculty members were in the Accounting area.  The cross-tabulation respondents acknowledge that they do not teach differently to their discipline can be found in Table 6.

Table 6: Cross-Tab of Discipline and Teaching Differently than Secular

 Discipline  Respondents
Replying No
 Percentage
 Accounting  30  36
 Economics  19  23
 Marketing  18  22
 MIS  8  10
 Management  7  9

            Nearly one third (31%) of business faculty at Christian universities never quote Scripture in their lectures.  A total of 65% respondents acknowledged incorporating some Christian principles in their lecture (over 50% of these selected 1-25% of the class time).  In another questions, 60% acknowledged using classroom activities that include Christian business principles.  Yet, 60% of business faculty do not use any books that incorporate Christian principles in their classes.  With nearly all in agreement, 97% of respondents identified with the statement “Do you typically use traditional college textbooks in your courses,” while only 6 of the respondents use nontraditional books or other materials.  Of these 6 respondents, all were male and taught primarily in management, with two-thirds (66%) coming from Evangelical universities, the other third were from universities of the Christian Church denomination.

Hypothesis 3

            Faculty members at Christian universities do not know how to incorporate Christian principles into their business classes was the third hypothesis for this study.  Survey elements that address this hypothesis were (1) “I see no way of incorporating Christian principles into my courses,” (2) “I do not know how to incorporate Christian principles into my class.”  Five percent of survey respondents acknowledged they saw no way of incorporating Christian principles into their courses, and only 6% of those responding to the survey noted that they did not know how to incorporate Christian principles into their class.

Discussion

            Do business faculty members at Christian-affiliated universities see the need to integrate Christian principles into their business classes?  The survey reveals respondents believe that Christian principles do in fact belong in business classes.  Faculty members in economics were the least likely to support the value of Christian principles in business classes (53% either disagreed or responded they were not sure to the survey elements addressing this point).  Accounting and finance disciplines showed the weakest support for applying Christian principles in business classes; with nearly 40% either disagreeing or responding they were not sure to the survey elements addressing this point.

            There was greater support incorporating Christian values into the classroom from male faculty members than females.  Of the 38 faculty respondents who did not fully support the idea of Christian values in the business classroom, 18 were female (47%) and 20 (53%) were male.

            The 18 female faculty members who did not fully support this idea represented one-third (33%) of all females responding, while the 20 males not fully supporting the idea represented 13% of all males responding.

            Denominationally, there was a greater number of faculty members from Baptist-affiliated universities who did not fully support the idea of incorporating Christian principles (12) but that only reflected less than a quarter (21%) of all Baptist university  faculty  responding.  Lutheran universities had the highest percentage of respondents failing to support Christian principles in the classroom (55%), followed by Catholic universities with 47% not fully supporting the idea of incorporating Christian principles into the classroom.

            The data supports the first hypothesis that faculty members do think that it is important to incorporate Christian principles into business classes.  That being said, an examination of the second hypothesis, which reads “Business faculty are incorporating  Christian  principles  in  their  classes,” might be considered.  As previously discussed, 60% of the survey respondents state that they teach their classes differently than if they taught at a secular university.

            Although well over half of the respondents state that they teach their classes differently than if they taught at a secular school, less than 25% of the responding faculty start each class session with a verse or public prayer, almost one-third never quote scripture in their lecture material, only 7% incorporate Christian principles into their lecture more than 25% of the time, 60% do not use any reading materials that incorporate Christian principles in their classes, and 85% of those responding spend less than 25% of their classroom time discussing the application of Christian principles into their disciplines.

            Many faculty members at Christian-affiliated universities believe that incorporating Christian principles is being done, or should be done by someone else in the university.  As much as 42% of responding faculty disagreed with the survey element that states “The university has ample opportunity to expose students to Christian principles without using my class time”; while 73% agreed with the statement “Christian principles are covered in the ethics or leadership courses so they do not need to be covered in my courses.”  The study supports the second hypothesis, reflecting (at a minimum) that many  faculty members at Christian universities believe that they are incorporating Christian principles into their business classes.

            The third hypothesis states that faculty members at Christian-affiliated universities do not know how to incorporate Christian principles into their classes.  One element of the survey reads “I see no way of incorporating Christian principles into my courses.” Only 5% of responding faculty agreed with that statement.  Another element “I do not know how to incorporate Christian principles into my classes” had an 80% negative response (13% responded “not sure” and 7% agreed).  The research supports the null of the third hypothesis; most faculty members at Christian universities believe they do know how to incorporate Christian principles into their business classes.

Conclusions

            One bright spot of this research is that business faculty at Christian-affiliated universities recognize the institutional value of teaching from a Christian perspective.  Over 90% of responding faculty acknowledged the “the university I teach at encourages me to incorporate Christian principles into my classes.”  Nearly all faculty members at Christian universities are aware of this fact.

            Although the results of this survey indicates that business faculty members at Christian universities feel it is important to teach from a Christian perspective, and many feel that they do, one must ask if these principles are being applied correctly, and frequently enough.  Simple things like prayer, and Biblical examples to reinforce a lesson could be performed with greater frequency in the business classes at Christian universities than this research indicates.

            It appears that business faculty members at Christian universities need to do a better job of finding discipline relevant reading material and classroom exercises that incorporate Christian values.  If faculty members cannot find adequate materials then they need to develop their own or network with other Christian business faculty members to obtain the materials that they need.  Classroom discussion questions can easily incorporate the application of Christian principles in any business disciple.

            The first step has been taken, recognizing the significance of incorporating Christian values into every class taught at a Christian university.  The next step is to incorporate these values into the classes, and for others expand the amount these values are incorporated into classes.

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Endnotes

1 Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Mission, www.cccu.org/about, accessed October 2011.

2 Campbellsville University: 2011-2013 Undergraduate Bulletin-Catalog, p. 107

3 Dallas Baptist University, Mission Statement, www3.dbu.edu/about/mission.asp, accessed October 2011.

4 Anderson University, Mission Statement, www.anderson.edu/welcome/mission, accessed February 2, 2012

5 Arthur Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College (Grand Rapid, Michigan: Wm. Eerdmans, 1987).

6 Michael Duduit, “The Challenges for Christian Higher Education,” in Christianity 9 to 5, www.epiphanyresources.com/9to5/articles/christianhighered.htm, accessed October 2011.

7 Ibid.