LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has launched its new Global Campus for students serving in ministry around the world to complete a master of divinity degree through online and other distance learning options.
“We do not merely want to have a program that allows people to access Southern Seminary online,” President R. Albert Mohler Jr. noted in announcing the Global Campus in chapel Feb. 12 during the seminary’s Great Commission Focus. “Our ambition is bolder than that — it is to reach the nations.”
Through the Global Campus, students can earn their M.Div. entirely through Southern Seminary Online or one of the institution’s nine extension centers. Other distance learning options include hybrid modular, conference, mission trip or J-term courses and the Ministry Apprenticeship Program.
The digital age has opened new opportunities to “eclipse geographical boundaries” and provide theological education to anyone regardless of location, Mohler said. Faculty trips to China, for example, have led to requests from Christians there to continue learning from seminary professors. The Global Campus, he said, is the seminary’s opportunity to overcome previously “impermeable” barriers.
“Our mission is, and will always be, the same: to train, to educate and to prepare God-called ministers for more faithful service in the churches and on the mission fields of the world,” Mohler said. “We want to make certain that the reach of Southern Seminary’s theological education is not bounded by physical distinctions that new technologies have allowed us to overcome.”
The seminary held special events on the call to missions and evangelism during its Great Commission Focus the week of Feb. 9. In a video recorded for the Global Campus, Mohler noted that the Great Commission “fuels our global vision.”
“We’re not trying to sell a product to the world, we have a message to take to the world,” he said in the video.
The Global Campus opportunity will not only make theological education more accessible for international students but also allow students like Katie Gibson to obtain a degree while obeying the missionary call with her husband Jonathan, preparing for a move to western Asia. Katie said she can “benefit from the wealth of resources and knowledge” of Southern Seminary even though she will have no access to the Louisville, Ky., campus.
While the Global Campus will allow students to earn the M.Div. online, Mohler said Southern Seminary remains “absolutely committed to the centrality of the on-campus experience.”
“The most important context to which we can aim is that which puts a professor and students in the physical classroom, where we believe the most amazing things of all can happen in the educational opportunity the Lord has given to us,” Mohler said in his chapel announcement.
A variety of Global Campus opportunities retain the on-campus learning experience. The hybrid modular courses blend online learning with classroom experience on campus. J-term courses are week-long sessions held in the winter or summer between semesters. And Southern Seminary operates nine extension centers across the United States: New York City; Boston; Columbia, Md.; Knoxville, Jackson and Nashville, Tenn.; Greenville, S.C.; Springdale, Ark.; and Washington, D.C.
Students also can earn course credit on mission trips through the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization or in seminary-affiliated conferences. Churches that participate in the Ministry Apprenticeship Program (MAP) also provide opportunities to earn course credit through qualified ministry internships.
The Global Campus tagline, “From Louisville to Laos,” emphasizes Southern’s commitment to providing quality theological education wherever students are serving in ministry, seminary leaders say.
“You may remember that great Methodist John Wesley who said, ‘The world is my parish,'” Mohler said. “Now Southern Seminary is ready to say, ‘The world is our campus.'”
For more information on Southern Seminary’s Global Campus, visit sbts.edu/globalcampus.