In a recent blog from Future Shapers’ Richard Hames (https://thefutureshapers.com/the-ivory-tower/), he speculates on the future of higher education in the light of the monumental changes in education accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Reading this article, it became clear that the success of the new BGU PhD program illustrates many of his points. In our first year we admitted 25+ students, with our first learner already beginning their research. I want to reflect on BGU’s new PhD program using topics suggested by Hames, showing that we were ahead of our time, continuing at the forefront of Christian post-graduate education (quotes from Hames).
Cost vs. Value
“The pervasiveness of web-based, internet technologies will increasingly add momentum to distance learning with the capacity to reach previously unimaginable numbers globally.”
Many schools have pivoted to on-line learning during 2020, many with limited success. BGU had already shown on-line success at the Masters and Professional Doctoral arenas. In 2020, we demonstrated that this could be successfully extended in the Academic Doctoral category through careful balance between the academic and practical focci. The comparatively low cost of BGU’s degree has opened PhD possibilities to people from all over the world. Our new students are a global cohort from Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.
“Higher education will need to become more relevant, more aligned with reality and more strategically focused if it hopes to . . . shape . . . tomorrow’s world.”
Our new students are focused on research in a wide range of current issues: public corruption, children at risk, pre-school children’s development, spirituality and discipleship, missional church development, etc. Transformation continues to be the BGU hallmark for our PhD students.
“Original ideas often come from reassembling knowledge in new ways . . . marshalling information is no longer enough to constitute learning. It’s what you do with this information that counts. That is why the humanities are more relevant than ever.”
A focus of BGU PhD research is trans-disciplinary investigation of real-life problems. Truth from sociology, anthropology, social sciences, urban psychology (to name a few) is becoming integral as BGU research moves forward.
“Higher learning is the only business that has a ceremony for firing its customers . . . The goal would be to keep members over the life cycle of their careers . . . Learning would be something that was continuous. There is no doubt educational institutions that survive the new economy will move from the industrial age “event” model to a model that turns students into members of a network – a network that keeps them engaged over the course of their life.”
Innovation that leads to transformation of organizations and society is only possible if the learning community that we foment as BGU students continues long past the days of BGU studies. Already we know this is true of our Masters, DMin and DTL students — it will become more impactful as students lead out innovatively around the globe as a result of their BGU PhD research.
It is toward this end that we dedicate ourselves to BGU students who will form a global cadre of innovators who God can use to transform society wherever they are.
Dr. Les Hirst
Academic Coordinator, PhD Program