Introducing the MA in Intercultural Studies
Preparation for Indigenous Leadership!
Many people believe Indigenous peoples are a pivot point in the next expansion of ministry moving us closer to fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission. So does NAIITS! Programs like the MA in Intercultural Studies offered in partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary (SFS) are intended to position us fully in this new time.
Developing your skills as one of a growing cadre of Indigenous women and men you will work and study with the expanding NAIITS community of upcoming leaders!
Together with you NAIITS wants to construct a body of theology and biblical teaching—one that resonates with the culture and traditions of Indigenous peoples around the globe.
Biblical, Theological and Historical Studies (27 credit hours)
Hebrew Scripture Foundations
A general introduction to the historical, sociological, and theological context in which the Hebrew Scriptures came into existence, this course will provide the student with an understanding of the major emphases of the texts. In addition, the student will be introduced to themes of community life and praxis in the Hebrew Scriptures that find parallels in historical Indigenous worldviews of creation and Creator. The course will use community understandings, models and paradigms as a basis for comparison.
New Testament Foundations
A general introduction to the historical, sociological, and theological context in which the New Testament Scriptures came into existence, this course will familiarize students with the content and structure, distinctive theology, and introductory matters of the New Testament. in addition, the student will be introduced to the nature of the early Christian community, its transitions and changes from a strictly Hebraic construct as found within the Jewish community, and projections made for its future development.
History of Christianity I
This course is designed as an introduction to the critical themes and the developments of the history of Christianity. From Christianity's West Asian origin in the Apostolic time to the days of Reformation and Christianity in the early Colonial history, students will identify key Christian women and men, movements and investigate historical and theological concepts. Instead of an Euro-centric view, which often represents Christianity as Western in various versions of the Christian stories, this course examines and offers the learners diverse perspectives. It guides the students to appreciate the contributions of the Indigenous peoples and to develop critical thinking skills in historical and theological issues.
History of Christianity II: Indigenous History and Mission
This course is an examination of the history of Christian mission among Indigenous peoples. The course examines the results of missionary efforts among Indigenous peoples through exposure to current Indigenous life and spiritual practices. The course also explores alternative models of mission that may be more effective than past mission efforts. Students will be exposed to the long history of mission among Indigenous peoples through readings, shared experiences and various media. The values associated with the Indigenous perspectives of harmony will be explored as a basis for a mission model along with an understanding of Indigenous theologies of the land.
Christian History in Context
This course covers the development of Christianity up through the present giving special attention to the underserved and under-represented in most dominant cultural historical accounts in order to give a more balanced approach to the subject. The course covers topics in a somewhat historical progression such as the development of denominations and trends in theological thought, significant church leaders, and the place of the church in contemporary culture. In this course areas such as political events and social concerns are considered relevant, including the shaping of our theologies and the formation of our myths and meta-narratives. Students will be encouraged to reflect in detail on their individual contexts.
Theology I: Indigenous Perspectives
This course is a theological reflection focused on the concept of community. It will examine the Christian doctrines of creation, fall, and redemption, identifying God’s community-creating purpose in the world. Other issues examined include evil and the fall in their spiritual and cosmic dimensions, ecology and the cultural mandate. The course will include understandings of the nature and origins of community as portrayed within Indigenous cosmologies and spiritual perspectives.
Colonization and Decolonization
This course focuses on contemporary theories regarding colonization and decolonization emerging out of Indigenous studies, critical ethnic studies, and post colonialism studies. Attention is paid to the relationship between race, colonialism, and gender. Students will explore how these theories intersect with Christian theologies and spiritual practice. This course will consider the critiques made by Indigenous and postcolonial scholars of the methodological approaches used in the humanities and social sciences for their complicity in colonialism. It will examine various attempts to “decolonize” methodology and to construct Indigenous and postcolonial methodological approaches to society and community. Students will work to develop their own philosophical and methodological approaches to decolonization.
Theology II: Theology and Ethic of the Land
During this course students will be immersed in the wider creation in a retreat context with reading prior to and following the retreat. The experience of the beauty and hope of God as immanent within creation will be considered through Indigenous understandings of the land, and the relationship between science and faith. Students will engage current issues such as
agriculture, conservation, land use and consumption of natural resources, gaining an understanding of the dual expressions of Indigenous and Hebrew constructs of shalom through which God blesses creation.
Indigenous Practice of Andragogy
Andragogy is the study of methods, epistemologies, philosophies and contextual understandings of education that pertain to and enhance an adult-focused learning environment. This course will introduce the student to andragogical method as a theological framework and a contextual teaching practice, exploring the theological, philosophical, and pragmatic underpinnings of teaching. The course will also introduce the student to a variety of strategies to advance their development as a teacher.
Intercultural Studies Core (18 credit hours)
Cultures and Systems Change
The experience of Christianity has been culturally devastating for Indigenous peoples. Through exploring the process of decolonization and indigenization, this course will examine how Indigenous people live a biblically-informed Christian faith in the context of Indigenous cultures. Jesus, as a change master in a complex cultural system, is the model for guiding effective and lasting change. This course utilizes perspectives and tools for interpreting and guiding a cultural system towards deep change. Insights from various disciplines, such as anthropology, social psychology, and organizational science, will stimulate the exegesis of culture in fresh ways.
Trajectories in the study of anthropology have been helpful and hurtful, particularly to Indigenous people globally. In this course, participants will explore a variety of historical anthropological theories. The course will explore anthropology as a discipline and invite other worldviews to contribute to the shaping of anthropological theory and practice for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Ethics in Intercultural Context (Directed Study)
This course is an intercultural, contextual introduction to central issues in Christian ethics, with attention to the way in which moral reflection interacts with philosophy and culture. The course explores biblical-theological foundations for ethics, the role of scripture and Jesus’ example in ethical formulation, and deals with major contemporary topics including gender, sexuality, marriage, euthanasia, war, bioethics, wealth and poverty.
Indigenous Symposium Seminars
In order to foster deeper relationship, more effective academic engagement, and an overall greater involvement within the NAIITS community, students are required to attend two symposia as they progress through their studies. They will be required to participate in the concurrent seminar, and complete required assignments.
The purpose of field placement is to provide the student with the opportunity to practice and integrate knowledge and skills, including the development of a personal ministry/work philosophy and identity in the field of their interest. Students are helped to integrate classroom and textbook learning with real life practice activities. Placements are in community or institutional settings where you have a direct involvement with individuals, communities and families, related to your ministry focus, as well as addressing social justice issues through community development practices.
Jesus followers must be willing to interact and engage with an inquiring mind, in a knowledgeable way and in a Christ-like manner with peoples of other faiths. This course provides an overview of the major World Religions including the place of Christianity in the religious arena. It offers a foundation for understanding the classification of religions as well as the chronological development, adaptation, geographical distribution, worldviews, and cultural impact of world faiths. A summary of major religious innovators/figures, central doctrines/teachings, sacred myths and texts – including potential emerging world religions – will lead into a discussion concerning appropriate Christian responses to the world’s religions and their adherents. Indigenous values such as respecting others and story-telling are central to the approach utilized in this course.
Skill Development (9 credit hours)
Indigenous Research and Writing
This course covers all aspects of research and writing at an academic level. The student develops their voice as an academic writer by learning how to identify and use rhetorical strategies in writing. The course will also explore the specific needs or concerns of Indigenous writing and research methods including protocol. Other topics covered are: proper citation and bibliography formatting, grammar, crafting solid thesis statements, building a line of reasoning and other organizational strategies of formal research papers, finding and interacting with quality primary sources and how to synthesize and interact with secondary sources in an academic essay.
Indigenous Spirituality and Formation
Indigenous understandings of the nature of the spiritual and of spirituality differ in many respects from those commonly held within Western traditions of Christian faith. The focus of the course, therefore, is to introduce the student to the ways in which Indigenous people participate as followers of Jesus in a manner that is authentic to their own cultural understandings, seeking to encourage spiritual growth and development from within such an Indigenous framework. This course will also discuss the appropriation of what has been perceived to be Indigenous spirituality by non-Indigenous people as well as a brief focus on what can be effectively learned from Indigenous understandings of the spiritual.
Missional Ecclesiology (Directed Study)
How do we describe what church is? Are there forms and structures that are requisite for a “church” to be properly constituted? These and other questions related to church in a missional context will be explored from an Indigenous vantage point giving consideration to the nature of the church, the purpose of the church, and leadership forms and methods for ministry. Questions of praxis will frame our discussion of ecclesial forms, as they might be required in order for mission to be effective in intercultural contexts.
Indigenous Leadership Development
This seminar course will introduce students to concepts of leadership, organizational change theory, and skills required to lead organizations and communities in the context of changing demographics. The emerging practice of diversity as central to leadership theory and practice, the holistic nature of diversity, social justice within a diverse society, and the role these have in contributing to effective and appropriate leadership will be explored to gain an informed understanding. Reflection on multicultural, and intercultural perspectives and partnerships, specifically, those between Indigenous Peoples and Western culture is a focal aspect of this course. Leaders require knowledge, skill and attributes that support inclusion and promote unity.