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INTEGRATION OF FAITH, LEARNING
AND WORK AT GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY
rand Canyon University is a Christ-centered educational
institution that seeks to promote the common good by
intentionally integrating faith, learning and work. The
university’s initiative to integrate faith stems from its
mission to educate students from a distinctively Christian perspective
and prepare them for careers marked by kindness, service and
integrity. In addition to helping students find their purpose, the
university endeavors to carry out its mission in ways that are marked
by compassion, justice and concern for the common good.
The message of Jesus Christ offers wisdom for the present and hope for
the future. It is good news for individuals and for the communities in
which individuals live and work. Jesus himself taught that Christians
should live as salt and light within the world, which suggests that the
Christian worldview relates as much to the public arena as it does
to the private lives of individuals. As a university, we are convinced
this calling should shape the ways we think and act within academic
disciplines and various career fields.
Our desire to integrate faith, learning and work flows out of an
institutional commitment to cultivate and exemplify the biblical
ideals of glorifying God and loving neighbors as ourselves. By God’s
grace we seek to honor Him in all that we do and to serve others in
ways that are consistent with the loving kindness of Jesus Christ.
These ideals are lofty but they represent appropriate goals and should
serve as standards for Christian educational institutions. For these
reasons, GCU is devoted to the intentional and pervasive integration
of the Christian worldview.
What is the Integration of Faith, Learning and Work?
The integration of faith and learning may be understood as the
scholarly process of joining together knowledge of God and knowledge
of the universe for the sake of developing true, comprehensive and
satisfactory understandings of humans and the world they inhabit. As
a Christian university, we view the integration of faith and learning
as a matter of institutional integrity and a matter of practical wisdom.
At GCU, integration of the Christian worldview also extends to the
workplace as we strive to instill a sense of vocational calling and
purpose in our students, faculty and staff. It is our conviction that
our work within the world matters to God and our neighbors and
must be carried out with integrity and excellence. While few doubt
that it is possible to serve God through ministry and mission work,
we are convinced that God is also honored by faithful service within
“secular” vocations. Integrating faith and work is a practical and
logical extension of faith-learning integration.
The integration of faith and work may be understood as the application
of the Christian worldview within the context of work in ways that
honor God, serve neighbors and contribute to the advancement of
the society. Work represents a vital opportunity to integrate Christian
convictions, ethical principles and vocations in ways that glorify God
and benefit others. Thus, we seek to honor God by educating students
from the perspective of the Christian worldview and by equipping
them to serve others through their respective vocations.
Why Does GCU Integrate Faith, Learning and Work?
GCU has grown from a small, Christian college into a large and
comprehensive university in Phoenix’s West Valley with a significant
national presence. Yet, the university remains committed to the
central convictions that have long characterized quality Christian
education and faithful Christian institutions. Chief among these
convictions are the principles that God is both Creator and Redeemer,
that fallen humans need to be redeemed and that God is restoring the
entire world through his Son, Jesus Christ. These convictions represent
foundational beliefs that are central to the Christian worldview
and derive from the consistent biblical emphasis on creation, fall,
redemption and restoration. This four-fold framework undergirds the
university’s approach to education and career preparation by providing
a comprehensive and compelling view of the world.
The understanding that God created the universe and everything
within it serves as a unifying principle and vital starting point for
making sense of the world in which we live. Furthermore, by faith
we recognize that God continues to work in our day to redeem the
brokenness and inadequacies of humanity and society in ways that
offer hope for the future. God is not only Creator but also Redeemer,
and He has promised to make all things new through Jesus our Lord.
In some cases Christians have placed emphasis on sin and the need
for personal redemption to the neglect of the doctrines of creation
and restoration. While concern for individual salvation is entirely
appropriate, we are convinced that the Bible actually sets forth a
more holistic vision for life. This vision encompasses the restoration
of the created order as well as the renewal of human creatures and
communities. These understandings are rooted in the biblical
narrative and reflected in GCU’s Doctrinal Statement. As such, they
deeply shape the identity, mission and vision of the university.
In accord with Christian values and convictions, GCU affirms the
universality and objectivity of truth and considers the pursuit of
knowledge a worthy and attainable goal. Within secular academic
contexts the search for knowledge tends to exclude areas of inquiry
and sources that are not consistent with secularized views of the world.
By contrast, GCU is committed to the pursuit of understanding and
affirms that genuine knowledge may be derived from a wide variety
of sources, including human reason and introspection, scientific
investigation and divine revelation. The university strives to cultivate
an academic environment in which students are empowered to seek
truth wherever it may be found.
Students are encouraged to raise questions that cannot be answered
adequately without exploring matters of ultimate concern. By
broadening the conversation, we urge students to explore their
personal worldviews as well as the Christian worldview to find
their purpose within a world that displays the wisdom and glory
of God. This provides unique opportunities to develop knowledge,
skills, self-awareness, self-knowledge and depth of character. This
educational strategy enables thoughtful people to understand
Christian beliefs and Christian believers to become more
thoughtful. As a result, graduates of GCU are prepared to engage
the world with a sense of vocational calling and purpose.
How Does GCU Integrate Faith, Learning, and Work?
The university strives to integrate faith at all academic levels, which
includes its undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. GCU’s
basic strategy of integration centers on the concept of a worldview,
which refers to the complex network of assumptions that shape
thought and practice. By exploring various worldview commitments,
students are able to reflect on implications and practical value of major
options available within the marketplace of ideas.
Students are introduced to the Christian worldview from the start of
their programs of study. By thinking from a worldview perspective,
students learn to reflect carefully on the underlying assumptions,
motives and intentions that shape views of themselves and the world.
They will be challenged to consider the practical implications of their
personal perspectives and to refine understandings on the basis of
investigation, reflection and dialogue. Students are encouraged to
consider the needs and interests of others in addition to their own,
and embrace the Christian values of love and service as they prepare
to enter the workforce.
This is not to suggest that all students are required to personally
embrace the Christian worldview. They are free to do so, of
course, but they are also free to embrace other views of the world.
Christians believe that God grants common grace to Christians
and non-Christians alike, a grace by which all truth and all that
is excellent in our work may be considered good, regardless of an
individual’s beliefs. Faith is a matter of conscience that cannot and
should not be forced upon anyone who is unwilling or resistant to
embrace it for any reason.
As a Christian university, we aim to be persuasive in our presentation
and practice of the Christian worldview, but renounce all forms
of coercion and compulsion. Faith, when genuine, is a voluntary
response to the person and work of Jesus Christ. As a matter of loving
others as we love ourselves, we are committed to respectful dialogue
and charitable engagement in all matters, especially in matters of faith
and conscience. GCU invites students from all walks of life to seek
truth and to find their purpose within a context marked by Christian
charity and compassion. We welcome all who genuinely seek truth to
join the conversation.
Conclusion: Faith Seeking Understanding
As intelligent and moral creatures, human beings bear significant
responsibility for what they know and how they live in light of such
knowledge. Thus the pursuit of truth should be a means to the end
of promoting human flourishing and the good of the communities in
which we live. Similarly, we must carry out our work with excellence
and integrity and serve others as if our service is unto the Lord.
Strong economies, healthy organizations and virtuous people are
foundational to vibrant communities and thriving societies. Realizing
these ideals depends substantially on arriving at true understandings
of who we are and how we are meant to live in this world.
As a Christian university, GCU encourages students to find their
purpose in Christ while emphasizing biblical values and ethics
within the workplace. GCU embraces the notion that faith is the
appropriate starting point for honest inquiry and exploration.
Faith, understood in this way, should not stifle research, suppress
dialogue or inhibit scientific investigation. Rather, we believe in
order to understand more fully and by doing so we expect to see
the power of God at work in the lives of individuals and in the
restoration of our culture and society.
This expectation is rooted in the steadfast character of the God of the
Bible who has graciously promised favor and blessing to all who call
on His name. To Him alone we look for wisdom as we pray and wait
for the day when His kingdom comes, and His will is finally done on
Earth as it is in Heaven. May He find us faithful on that day!