A long awaited dream has finally come true. This summer I will be transferring from Eastern University’s School of Management Studies to the School for Social Change (SSC). Every since SSC opened nearly nine years ago, I have wanted to be part of their mission. This past fall I was invited to join the faculty there and gladly accepted. After several months of negotiation, the logistical details have been worked out. This summer my office will move from Valley Forge, where I have been for several years to Eastern’s Philadelphia campus.
I will be splitting my time between three programs in SSC. First, I will be joining the Masters in Urban Studies program. Currently, I am teaching a Leadership Development course in that program, and having a great time. I hope to also will teach courses in urban theology and Race and Ethnic Relations.
Second, I will be teaching in the newest program “Eastern in the City”, an undergraduate program specifically targeting urban students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to attend a Christian college. Students earn a two year Associates of Arts degree, which they can then transfer to Eastern or any other four year college. This past fall I taught the introductory first year course, “Introduction to Faith, Reason and Justice,” and next fall will also teach a course on social justice.
The third program involves an outreach to urban pastors and community leaders who are seeking to develop skills in the areas of organizational management, community outreach and economic development. Faculty from Palmer Theological Seminary, the School of Leadership Development, and SSC are combining efforts and expertise. Here I hope to contribute my insights from community based education and adult learning. This effort is still in the process of being formulated, but holds great promise.
In my limited involvement with SSC to date, I have found the students to be engaging and the faculty and staff very supportive. There is a strong commitment to the city, and to providing innovative education that reflects the urban environment we seek to serve. While connected to Eastern’s main campus in terms of the overall mission, SSC brings a fresh approach to education that seeks to transform the lives of students, as well as the city.
Joining the folks of SSC in many ways brings together many of my long time passions. Ever since my days as a pastor, I have had a special concern for the people of the city and the challenges they face. Part of my own journey has been coming to grips with the great advantages I have enjoyed in life and desire to give back to others. Inmy studies of adult education I have focused in the area of popular education, or what I have come to called community based adult education, which focuses on ways of bringing folks together to identify and address the problems they are facing in their community.
While I bring expertise in the areas of leadership, social justice, interracial issues and faculty development, I expect I will grow in ways I have yet to imagine. The faculty and staff of SSC are seasoned urban practitioners, and I expect to learn a lot from them. Upon graduation from college, my first job was as an urban youthworker in Boston, MA. Thereafter, I pastured in two urban churches, after moving to churches outside the city, and teaching in adult higher education. In coming to SSC, I have come full circle, and it feels like coming home.
Congrats on your new job assignment. Reading what your new teaching assignments are seems to really match your greatest strengths and work background. I know you will do a great job and will be the agent of transformation for many in your local community. Congrats again!
Breck A. Harris,
Fresno Pacific University