Todd Ream interviews Michael Lindsay, President of Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, for Books and Culture. An excerpt:
Gordon College is one of only a handful of evangelical Christian colleges that has not invested in online and/or degree completion forms of education for undergraduates. What challenges do those decisions pose for Gordon?
I am persuaded—and I think almost all my colleagues are as well—that some dimension of online pedagogy is going to be part and parcel of the undergraduate experience for every institution over the next five to ten years. We’ve seen this realignment gaining momentum on many fronts. I think that that will become part of who we are. Gordon has been doing some piloted programs in online education for about three years, and I think that the pilot program was the exactly right way to go. It has given us a chance to see what we are doing and how we can make improvements. And for us it’s not about expanding the population that we serve, but instead it’s figuring out a way to better serve our existing population. We recognize that undergraduates today demand some engagement with multimedia. At the same time, we are committed to our core identity as a liberal arts college. One of the things that I think that Gordon can uniquely do is that we can demonstrate for other Christian colleges how it is that you can be committed to a liberal arts environment while at the same time preparing young people for careers. A liberal arts education prepares you not for a job but for a career. And it prepares you for a career that spans your entire lifetime. One thing that struck me in my own research is that so many of the people that I interviewed—over half of them, in fact—had a liberal arts degree. I asked them, “Why did you not major in business or in finance?” They said they were looking for something that would give a broad enough base so that they could be flexible and respond to the changing dynamics. That’s the value of a liberal arts education.
Read the whole thing.