Courtesy: Noah Toly

Redeemer launches revolutionary scholarship centre

“We’re trying to unlock the intellectual capital of Christian academies and push it into the public square.”

ANCASTER, ON---Redeemer University College has launched the Centre for Christian Scholarship, a ground-breaking centre seeking to help engage high quality Christian research in public debate.

“The Centre for Christian Scholarship works specifically to build outstanding Christian scholarship that connects to the questions our neighbours are asking,” explains Robert Joustra, the Centre’s director. “We’re trying to unlock the intellectual capital of Christian academies and push it into the public square.”

Joustra says universities are great at monitoring the quality of public teaching and academic publication, but they often struggle with how to make their research applicable to the broader culture.
“We have these treasures, but we’ve locked them behind pay walls and obscure academic language that is impenetrable to 90 per cent of society. That’s the reason we came up with the idea for this centre, it was to open the door, let people in and show them around.”

The Centre does this through three outlets: by offering grants that support publicly engaging Christian research, by hosting a large annual conference, and through launching the new Emerging Public Intellectual Award.

Partnering with an Ontario association of Christian teachers, called Edified, the Centre’s first conference will be held October 28 to 30, with the theme “Faith and Education.”

“Joining us will be more than 900 educators who work in Kindergarten to Grade 12 school systems. We will be thinking through how we use our power as educators of society, to advance the common good,” Joustra states. “It’s designed for people who are thinking about how Christian institutions can think about themselves as public institutions. [Christian institutions] are being funded [through private] sources, but we exist for society and for the common good. How can we use our power in that way?”

Among the speakers this year is professor Noah Toly of Wheaton College, who is also the first recipient of the Emerging Public Intellectual Award.

“It's hard to say whether I was more gratified to learn that I had won the award or more excited, last spring, to learn that the Centre would be giving an award like this,” says Toly. “This award is a real boost and encouragement to those who see public engagement as a natural part of their callings as Christian scholars.”

Toly says he is impressed with the Centre’s convening power, which is clear from the diversity of the award’s sponsorship and adjudicators.

“They brought together five different organizations from across Canada and the United States to sponsor the award. There aren’t a lot of centres with that kind of convening power.”

Joustra hopes the Centre will help bring forward a new generation of credible Christian intellectuals.

“We have a bunch of really outstanding Christian universities in Canada. There is a lot of talent in these universities and I’m hoping this little centre at Redeemer can start a broader movement of academics thinking about how they can serve not only the Christian community, but also the public community.”

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About the author

Senior Correspondent

Craig Macartney lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where he follows global politics and dreams of life in the mission field.