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Classes of influence

Last Updated 18 March, 2015

by Anna Lee, Class of 2004

Higher education is by no means exempt from the consumerism of our society. More than ever before, students demand to know why they are being taught what they are taught and are seeking immediate return on their investment of time and money. For higher education institutions to remain relevant in this atmosphere is a challenge.

To understand what students value in their NNU coursework, we asked them what their most influential class has been. Often their most significant growth happened in courses outside their majors or in ways unrelated to the specific course content.

At NNU, educating the whole person means that every class, from the general education courses to senior projects, challenges students to think critically and to develop spiritually. These outcomes are difficult to measure in dollars and cents, but our students agree that they make all the difference in the quality of their education.

Pursuing understanding

Exercising critical thinking skills serves students in any profession. Jessica is prepared to work in cutting-edge technology industries, yet also able to reason effectively and act decisively.

Kirsten Jenson (Eagle, Idaho) is a junior taking her general education courses through the new Honors College. The program courses have been some of the most transformative she has taken.

“The Honors College has exposed me to different schools of thought. Two professors, usually from very different fields, teach each Honors class. This presents the students with very different views on the same reading, and the discussion that comes from the differences allows the students to determine what they think.

“I don’t feel pressured by the professors to simply accept what they say. In fact, in my first semester I nearly always disagreed with one of my professors, and he encouraged me to discuss what I thought because he wanted to know my reasoning. That experience really helped me form my own ideas because I knew that the professors expected me to have my own ideas and wanted to hear about them.”

Competent and successful people know how to think and make decisions, not just perform a particular task. This comes from experience in a variety of subjects and from faculty committed to forming scholars rather than acolytes.

Pursuing faith

Even more than becoming scholars, students at NNU are developed into servants of the Lord in classes throughout the curriculum. They appreciate being consistently both fed and challenged to grow in their faith.

A senior psychology major from Woodinville, Washington, Samantha Lundberg said, “I really enjoyed Neuroscience and Spiritual Formation. It was co-taught by a religion professor and a neuroscience professor, and we learned about the intricate relationship between spiritual experience and neural physiology. It was so interesting to explore spirituality from a physiological perspective and also to be reassured that the two aren’t at odds: science and religion exist peacefully together.”

“For me, the most influential class I took at NNU was the Philosophy of Religion class,” shared Steven Coles from 

La Grande, Oregon. He graduated with a double major in philosophy and philosophy & religion in December. He explains how taking this course helped refine his calling.

“Before becoming a philosophy major, I was a Christian ministry major. I did not give a lot of thought about the role that philosophy plays inside, or outside, of the Church. This class showed me the importance of reason in religion and the class gave me a space to think and to understand my faith more. The class persuaded me to become a philosophy major and to continue to pursue reason and use that reason to love the Church better.”

Practically any university can provide you a degree if all you are paying for is a piece of paper. At NNU, students agree that they benefit from more than just their major classes and their industry-specific coursework because they are learning to be not only competent professionals but also creative and redemptive agents in the world.

Photo caption: Jessica Knight (middle), engaged in discussion with classmates and her Logic instructor, Dr. Kevin Timpe (right)

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