June 2020 – There’s a well-known quote, attributed to Micheal Caine, that reads: “Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” This past month at the Scottish Baptist College has felt a little like that. We’ve been keeping quite quiet, but underneath there’s been lots going on and now we can share our exciting plans for next term. In summary:
1. We’re open for new students, we’re excited for the new term, and we’re taking some bold steps forward.
2. Next term we’re offering all our classes through blended learning with the exciting opportunity that they can be completed online and from distance.
3. We have the infrastructure to guarantee the same high-level of teaching and we remain committed to building a learning community and face-to-face tuition.
So how did we get here? Last week we involved a representation of students in a review and planning discussion and in order to move together as a College, we decided that it was best to continue with dispersed/distance teaching. We based this decision on a variety of reasons including the complications of physical distancing on campus and the limitations that would bring; the possibility of losing weeks of teaching if staff or students or the whole community has to isolate; and importantly continuing to make SBC open and accessible for those who are shielding or vulnerable.
If you have a sense of calling to theological study then the College is open and we’d love to have that conversation with you.
What does that look like for SBC?
As our students and our community are important to us, we’ve worked doubly hard this past term to develop ways to support one another, to share life together, and, in doing so, we’ve discovered new possibilities.
In short we’re adapting, and while we’re adapting we’re finding there are promising opportunities. For example, next term our classes will likely involve tutorial times – online or, if suitable, in-person and on campus. This will enable a deeper quality of discussion while our classes will remain largely “synchronous” – that is online but real-time, interactive and communal. Students will be able to chat to one another, discuss as they would on campus, and have access to their lecturers during class and thereafter – it will definitely not be impersonal! Some of our classes will be taught by Andrew Clarke based in Aberdeen, another by Paulus de Jong based in St. Andrews, and Alasdair Black based in Stirling, so not only will students across Scotland benefit from their expertise, but we’ll have local representation in many parts of the country. We’ll still have our team in the West of Scotland, but this helps us to embrace a fuller sense of our Scottish context. And we can guarantee the same high level of learning as we are resourced by the Digital Theological Library allowing access to over 600,000 theological books and 21,000 journals (60,000,000+ articles!) In one sense we’re changing very little about the strength of our teaching method, but offering it in a more accessible mode of delivery.
Therefore, although brought on by circumstances beyond our control, one of the opportunities this brings for the coming year is the ability to study for a Certificate in Theology and Pastoral Studies by blended learning. As well as our regular classes being online next term, we’re also preparing to offer three classes in second term by blended learning allowing you to complete a full one year Certificate programme at distance. Yes, it will still require availability at certain points in the week, but you won’t be required to travel to campus in order to complete the programme. It’s been a hope of ours for a long time to serve the church in Scotland more broadly by becoming more accessible and we think this is an excellent step towards that dream.
Of course, if a full Certificate is not possible then it will also mean we have a full range of individual modules that you can register for. Introductory classes in first term are:
Encountering the New Testament with Paulus de Jong
Living Justly in God’s World with Graham Meiklejohn
Communicating the Message: The Practice of Preaching with Lina Toth
And for those who already have a qualification in theology, there are upper level classes in:
Reconciliation with Ian Birch
Paul and the Gospel of Jesus with Andrew Clarke
The Sermon on the Mount with Lina Toth
And not to forget, we had always planned for the Chaplaincy and Schools module “Time for Reflection” to be online (and there is a limited bursary available for this module too!)