Our world is full of opportunities and challenges, hope and despair, promise and brokenness. How are we preparing the next generation to tackle the key issues of tomorrow? How do we prepare them to have a positive impact on their communities, to transform our culture and, in all these things, to reflect the hope of Jesus Christ?
Much has changed since Redeemer opened its doors to 97 students in 1982. Yet, more than thirty years later, Redeemer remains rooted in its mission of Christian university education that prepares students for lives of leadership and service. “What can I learn about God in my science or in my literature class?” we encourage our students to ask. “When I graduate and get a job, how can I use what I’ve learned to serve God and my neighbour?” Across the world, from the classroom to the convocation stage to careers and churches, our faculty, students and alumni are making an impact.
God has blessed Redeemer in amazing ways throughout its first 34 years.
Redeemer is continuing to invest in that mission, in a world of higher education where the expectations of students and the needs of the communities our students and faculty serve have changed dramatically. Students weigh universities and colleges for cost and for programs they believe will lead to jobs after graduation. They are deciding whether they will take their degree online or invest in classroom learning. They are navigating a higher education marketplace that is debating the value of the liberal arts.
But millennials, who make up the largest pool of potential students, want to make the same kind of impact that our alumni are making. They are seeking more than just job training; they are looking to develop their God-given gifts and find life-giving callings. Redeemer prepares them to make that type of impact, as Ontario’s only liberal arts and sciences university that delivers BA, B.Sc. and B.Ed. programs from an integrated Christian perspective.
As a relatively small university, Redeemer needs to and can respond quickly to its environment. We need to reflect and change where needed—without changing the heart of who we are. We must always keep in mind the needs and interests of students, who are seeking a holistic, transformative Christian university education that equips them to serve at the front lines of today’s culture.
Redeemer responded with a new five-year strategic plan, adopted by the Board of Governors in June 2014. At its core, Redeemer 2020 is a commitment to the goals and principles upon which Redeemer was founded.
Let’s look at some of the Redeemer 2020 initiatives that are already underway:
We’ve renewed our Core curriculum and launched the new Core this September. Rooted in our Reformed Christian worldview, the Core connects the entire Redeemer experience together with ten interdisciplinary courses that build on and complement the content of each student’s chosen discipline. The Core prepares students to be innovators and creative thinkers, problems solvers and team members. Given a broad understanding of the biggest issues facing our society, our students are ready to tackle problems that span science, technology, the humanities, social science and culture.
This March, the new Centre for Experiential Learning and Careers opens. The Centre will expand experiential and service-learning opportunities, like internships and co-op work terms, across Redeemer’s programs. The Centre will also deepen students’ career development, whether that means job hunting or researching graduate schools.
Last September, our students started majors and minors in Redeemer’s new Media and Communication Studies program. They are being prepared to respond to rapidly-changing digital media with a distinctly Christian voice.
We’re already seeing the results of these efforts. Redeemer 2020 initiatives have helped stabilize incoming student enrolment at around 200 new incoming students each year since 2014. This fall, we again welcomed 706 students to campus!
Redeemer is also recognized for the scholarship and creative activity of our faculty. It’s all part of our mission of Christ-centred teaching, research and service to the wider community. Through the Redeemer Centre for Christian Scholarship, we’re investing in outstanding Reformed Christian scholarship and connecting that scholarship to the questions our neighbours are asking.
“Our mission is too vital and too important to stop now.”
From monitoring pollution in Hamilton watersheds to investigating the under-researched issue of relationship violence on Christian campuses, the Centre’s Zylstra research fund program fosters original scholarship, directly related to issues of major public concern, and extends the reach of the work of Redeemer’s faculty into the public sphere.
The Centre also promotes and encourages emerging academics working at Christian colleges and universities, who speak out of their Christian perspective into big public questions. It hosts the Emerging Public Intellectual Award, whose latest recipient, art history expert Dr. Matthew Milliner, uncovers the sacred stories in the images that we encounter every day.
As we invest in the Redeemer 2020 plan, we are also committed to responsible stewardship of our resources. With the generous help of supporters, we have reduced Redeemer’s debt by more than $2 million this past year. Paying down this debt frees resources to fund student financial aid and other ongoing program and facility needs.
God has blessed Redeemer in amazing ways its first 34 years. Redeemer’s mission is as vital and important today as it was when our doors first opened. With more than 5,000 alumni leading the way and with the continued generous support of the wider Christian community, young Christians will continue to find their callings at Redeemer.