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  • 1. E. Christina Belchercbelcher@redeemer.caICCTE 10th Biennial Conference Azusa Pacific UniversityMay 23-26, 2012The Challenge of Sustaining Faithand Worldview in Institutional Life

2. Narrative and worldview: the creative research imagination in discourseCreation My research tells an institutionalstoryFall My research story struggles withsuffering or disequilibrium My research story strives forRedemptionredemption in its truth telling andquest for wonderReconciliation My research story reconciles its narratives within a biblical perspective of truth, hope andReiteration, justicereflexivity My story concludes with reiterationandand a new embodiment of purposeembodiment 3. Session outline:1. Research purpose: questions andconsiderations2. Context: Exploring the problematicunderstanding3. Worldview: Progression andlanguage4. Methodology: Ethnography andtheoretical contours for understanding5. Findings surrounding praxis andintent6. Conclusions 4. Timeliness of the researchHigher Education policy context (nationaland international) Interest in shared values (Canada andAbroad) Canadian CHE conversations: CAUT,CARDUS Interest in moral agency and institutionaldesign that fosters communityInstitutional context and considerations: Worldview significance and understandingover time; institutional particularity System and life worlds and narrative voiceswithin 5. The challenge of sustaining faith andworldview in institutional life ...Research questions How does an Institute of Christian HigherEducation (ICHE) develop and articulate anidentity that is distinctive, one that meetsthe needs of its particular students andacademics? What role does narrative have inunderstanding institutional and individualworldview? How is worldview as part of institutional lifesustained, discarded or embodied? 6. The challenge of aligning a faith and worldview with lived institutionalexperience Worldview is complex and varies institutionally and communally It provides what Dorothy Smith (2002, 2005) calls a problematic 7. Christian Higher Education: Exploring the worldview problematicOutsider InsiderPerspective?Ethnography Perspective? LanguageWorldview Smith, D. E. (2006). Institutional ethnography as practice. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 8. So how has worldview been understood?Between 1984-1997: As a guiding vision of andfor life (Walsh &Middleton, 1984) Do not beconformedto this As something individuallyleft largely unquestionedworld, but(Olthius, 1985) betransformed by the As a set of heldrenewing ofprepositions oryour mindassumptions , true orfalse, conscious or (Rom.subconscious (Sire, 1997) 12:1,2) 9. Changes in worldview understanding since 1997: As a semiotic system ofnarrative signs [creating Do not bea] symbolic universe conformedresponsible for life-to thisdetermining humanpractices. (Naugle,world, but2002) be transforme d by the As a formative, renewingembodied liturgicalexpression of love of your(Smith, 2009)mind (Rom. 10. Clearly, the process of seeking tounderstand the word worldview isitself problematic due to the manydiffering contexts and assumptionswhich inform the ways this word isused by academics, byindividuals and by institutions. 11. But is worldview more than any of these ... 12. A Model for Worldview Analysis (Hiebert,2008)- SYNCHRONIC WORLD- DIACHRONIC WORLD MYTHS worldview, ethos, cosmology, metanarrative, cosmogony,metaphorsroot myths synchronic looks at the structure diachronic looks at theof reality cosmic story1. Cognitive themes and counter 1. Storiesthemes2. Affective themes and counter 2. Dramatic themesthemes3. Evaluative themes and counter3. ProgressionthemesUniversalist vs. particularistAscription vs. achievementEquality vs. hierarchy This modelIndividual vs. groupwas rejected4. Root metaphors for aframework5. Epistemological foundations 13. How can worldview be bestunderstood and sustained within acommunity of Higher Education?Structure and direction (Wolters, 1985/2005) 14. MethodologyInstitutional ethnography (Smith, 2005) Voices from within, voices from outside, and areflexive voice from the liminal spaces Interconnections between institutional andindividual identity Focus on social experiences and institutionaltexts Shuttling between focus on the particularities ofinstitutional academic life and grand narratives,and the local system/life world structure anddirection Omega College as a community with aninstitutional worldview 15. Ethnographic Setting This research exploresworldview(s), narratives and livedexperience in one Christianinstitution of Higher education across three cohorts of the institutional community over 35 years. 16. Institutional Identity, Mission andconversations over time ...Participants: Students &Data:professors of the fromacademic OC community emailover a total of 35 years,conversationsfrom 1970 2005. demographic Cohort 1:1970-1985; data Cohort 2: 1985-1997; focus group Cohort 3: 1997-2005.interviews Christina, herself 17. Grand conversations, cultural critique anddisequilibrium ... Disequilibrium (Wolterstorff, 2002) as ameaningful (if messy) dimension ofworldview Being curious about and lovinglydissatisfied with the existing state of affairsin a way that engages graciousconversation that opens up further dialogueto rigorous academic scrutiny Under such circumstances, worldviewpresents as a complex problematic (Smith,2005) that deserves close scrutiny byresearchers and by institutions. 18. Engaging mission as one iteration of worldviewHow worldview is understood in OC: two voices from Cohort 1:Our mission statement suggests spirituality is not adimension of life but a pervasive life-direction. Though thereare practices (of worship and devotions, e.g.) that would bereadily recognized as "spiritual", these cultic activities areonly one facet of a life which in all its dimensions--economic,intellectual, aesthetic, educational, ethical, etc.isacknowledged as spiritual, as being in service of the One Godrevealed in Jesus Christ or of a substitute for God (an idol).(Sydney, Cohort 1)There is much more emphasis now on entering into dialoguealongside other views (e.g., postmodernism or criticaltheory), less on stressing the distinctive content of aChristian approach [than there was 20 years ago]. (Alex, Cohort 1) 19. How worldview is understood in OC: Two voicesfrom Cohort 2:This institution breaks down the false dichotomy ofseparating faith and life; and makes faith significant tolife in ways which benefit the world at large. (Karol, Cohort 2)I can select experiences in [OC] that shaped my worldview which developed as much from ordinary experiences (personal shared stories and narratives) as out of philosophical or theoretical reflection. This showed me the importance of life experiences in shaping my worldview beyond theory.(Jade, Cohort 2) 20. How worldview is understood in OC :Two voicesfrom Cohort 3:[OC works at preparing a] thoughtful and critical life-longlearner who is always looking for fresh ways to seek justice,transform culture, obtain the common good. (Geri, Cohort 3)I think it is necessary to reflect more about the unique,historically constituted way in which students experiences andagency play into the way students themselves appropriate andutilise the variety of things an institute like [OC] has to offer.One impression I recall is how different [OC] was from year toyear... During the summer [I was] re-hooking up with studentsand staff I had been taught by or studied with. 12 years later,the same common bonds of solidarity, intellectual struggle andfaith/life integration featured in our conversations andcharacterised our shared activities. [OC] sharpened myintellectual skills and confirmed that it is legitimate to pursueacademic interests that serve the needs of the marginalised andexcluded in society. (Lee, Cohort 3) 21. How worldview is understood in OC:one voice over threegenerationsI have experienced the hard reality thatcommonness of worldview may, nevertheless,lead to diverging practices.OC accurately reflects and embodies its visionstatement even though it is beset with all thefoibles and frailties of human institutions.Yes, even as I have done my part in shapingthe institutional worldview, experiences at[OC] have shaped me.(Taylor, Cohorts 1, 2 & 3) 22. Some insights from interviews and analysis Disequilibrium can be a helpful notion in makingmeaning from the diverse data. It has helped toreveal tensions in institutional perspectives on itsworldview which otherwise may have remainedinvisible or even corrosive to ongoing institutional life Reflection over time as well as in the momentprovides a lens into the function and nature ofworldview in institutional life Institutional worldview: common narratives, but alsodiversity and tensions (not a prescription for life) a dynamic lived experience rather than an abstract set of bounded concepts that govern individuals and the collective of a whole institution over generations (Belcher & Parr, 2011) 23. Final words from the inside over time, within system /life world structure and direction I think that OC has made me far more self-conscious about the ways in which my own work istied to the orienting intuitions, convictions [and]sensibility I bring to that work. It has made me farmore self-conscious about looking at the work ofothers out of the expectation that their work tooflows from equally deep impulses. And it hashelped me thereby to come to both my own workand the work of others with a critical sympathy, atone and the same time convinced that we tend tosee it in partial and [even] in distorted ways.(MacKenzie, Cohort 3) 24. Some insights from interviews &analysis Disequilibrium has been a helpful notion inmaking meaning from the diverse data. It hashelped to reveal tensions in institutionalperspectives on its worldview which otherwisemay have remained invisible or even corrosiveto ongoing