Yesterday, we looked at the origins of Shorter’s QEP and the lack of community participation in the final selection. Today we will examine some of the other aspects of the QEP that are particularly troubling. Looking at the QEP Timeline, we find that one of the first items listed is to advertise and interview for two faculty lines to teach the course in Christ Centered Critical Thinking. In other words, we want to use Critical Thinking as our QEP, yet we have no one to teach it.
We have to wonder that with over 100 faculty and administrative staff on the Shorter roster, was there not anyone on campus capable of teaching critical thinking, thus necessitating two hires? Given Shorter’s annual budget, could a collaboration among current faculty have saved Shorter a substantial investment in faculty salaries? We also note that the courses appear to be housed under the Liberal Arts umbrella, rather than under Communication Arts, where a course on Persuasion is already housed or under the Department of Christian Studies, where Christ centered thinking might more aptly fit.
While we realize that a timeline can only give a broad overview of the QEP process, amid all of the marketing, round tables, newsletters, websites, office selection and annual trips to the Foundation for Critical Thinking workshops (held annually at such places as the Clermont Resort Hotel and Spa or the Doubletree Hotel and Marina in Berkley, California), there is no mention of development of assessment rubrics or adjustment of curriculum to reflect the result of the assessment. Is the QEP committee truly more concerned about show and less about content? Certainly, without faculty on board to guide that process, it appears that Shorter is relying on two new faculty “gods” to have all of the answers on aptly assessing an area in which, it appears, they have no expertise. Perhaps that is not such a bad idea.
In our review of the QEP Presentation, we find another troubling aspect of the proposed plan. In slide 7, the second of the four Christ-centered elements we find the question “What difference does it make here, for this aspect of our living and learning, to affirm that Jesus Christ is Lord?” According to the 2010/11 Shorter Fact Book, fully 11% of the student body identified themselves as Non-Christian or Other on the Rome campus over a 5 year period. When we look at the non-traditional (over normal college age) students in the Adult and Professional Studies program, fully 38% of the student body identified themselves as other than Christian. If the Christ Centered Critical Thinking QEP is intended to be community wide and the CCCT course is required of all students, both traditional and non-traditional, the second element will prove a stumbling block for a significant portion of the student body. How, for example, is a Jew or a Buddhist supposed to deal with the issue of affirming that Jesus Christ is Lord? How will potentially losing over one-third of the nontraditional student body and better than 10% of its traditional student base affect Shorter’s annual revenues and its overall budget?
Finally, we would ask our readers to carefully examine Shorter’s Philosophy for Christian Education. As a part of that Philosophy, we find the following:
Christ-centered scholarship has its foundation in the biblical command to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Mark 12:30) and must be pursued in every field of study.
What Shorter has continually failed to recognize is that Christ’s full statement is Mark 12:30-31. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (NLT)
Perhaps it’s time for Shorter to do some critical thinking about the second half of Christ’s statement and apply that as liberally as they wish to apply the first.