- Excellence in liberal arts foundation
- Excellence in professional preparation
- Christ-centered community
- Local and global engagement
Core theme #1: Excellence in liberal arts foundation
At George Fox University helping our undergraduate students gain a strong liberal arts foundation and academic preparation is central to our mission. It is our desire that our graduates acquire the foundations for participation in work, life, and citizenship both at home and abroad. The liberal arts curriculum builds general knowledge and develops students’ rational thought, critical thinking, and intellectual capabilities. Our undergraduate majors each embrace a liberal arts core, the bulk of which is typically completed during the first one and a half to two years of study. Students then step into a specialized curriculum in the major they have declared. Our majors allow students a specified number of elective credits, which they can use to broaden their liberal arts studies or deepen their major concentrations.
Core theme #2: Excellence in professional preparation
Alongside the liberal arts, the university offers many professional programs that prepare undergraduate and graduate students for careers to meet society’s pressing needs. Theory and practice coexist in these programs; the big ideas of academia are connected to the practical matters of making a life and a living, equipping students to serve the changing world’s needs.
Our goal is to provide our graduates with an academic background that addresses the specific professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions to which they are called. We provide students with multiple opportunities to practice their professions as they work toward meeting the competencies defined by their respective fields. We teach students in every discipline that service to the community and to the world is an indispensible component of professional excellence.
Core theme #3: Christ-centered community
Christ-centered community provides the context for the work of faculty, staff, and students and is our third core theme. Christ-centered commitments influence the way in which we teach the content of our disciplines and further apply that knowledge and skill in ways that hopefully impact the world. The mission outcomes --think with clarity, act with integrity and serve with passion--are pervasive in our community. Faculty and staff seek to help students understand these foundational constructs and then model those ideas for students. They mentor students, giving them feedback, as individuals develop these commitments in their lives.
One of our goals at George Fox is to seek truth together in community. Thinking with clarity includes the ability to think rationally: to look carefully at evidence, to realize and understand bias, to learn how to differentiate and weigh the values of competing points of view and to recognize and hold these competing points in healthy tension. It is in community, alongside faculty, staff, and administrators that students begin to know what it “looks like” and “sounds like” to think with clarity as it is modeled for them.
Learning to act with integrity is a developmental process involving congruence between values, beliefs, and actions. Our Christ-centered community provides students with a place where they can ask difficult questions as they seek to synthesize their learning from academic texts, current research, class discussions, and human experience. Over time, students develop a framework that reflects an assimilation of new ideas into a coherent belief structure that can adapt and respond to new ideas. The Christ-centered community provides both challenge and support for students to act in ways that are consistent with their Christian worldview. Acting with integrity may involve subtle behavior changes: avoiding gossip, demonstrating stewardship, or committing to a spiritual discipline. However, acting with integrity may also involve significant risk and courage as students move beyond their close friends and family to demonstrate God’s love to an increasingly diverse, global community.
At the center of our Christ-centered community is the belief that all are gifted and “spiritually called” to service in a needy world. One of our hopes is to identify the gifts of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, and to equip them for the tasks to which they have been called, their vocation. Serving passionately within a person’s giftedness results in fruit such as love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that enriches the whole world. Implicit in this hope is a desire to be purposeful in our community about providing service opportunities as well as encouraging campus dialogue surrounding significant issues.
As a result of this exposure, students increasingly model a capacity for making reflective and responsible decisions regarding involvement and engagement with the broader community of which they are a part. This “ethic of service” is integrated into students’ experiences on both a curricular and co-curricular level in our Christ-centered community.
Core theme #4: Local and global engagement
At George Fox, we value experiential learning, both locally and globally. This learning is often aimed at understanding and improving the human condition. We desire to serve and connect with people from diverse cultures through relationships and reciprocal teaching and learning opportunities.
Preparing students to serve with passion arises out of a belief that meeting the needs of others is essential to fulfilling our Christ-centered and Quaker commitments. Implicit in this goal is a desire to be intentional about providing service opportunities as well as fostering campus dialogue surrounding significant issues. As a result of this exposure and dialogue, students develop a broadened perspective characterized by concern for the world’s poor and marginalized and a spirit of generosity toward others. These experiences are both character-forming and culture-forming; they prepare our students to meaningfully engage and make reflective and responsible decisions with respect to the broader community of which they are a part.