Christian study centers on college campuses across the U.S. are becoming increasingly popular and are striving to revise the perception that evangelicals are anti-science and anti-intellectual.
Study center leaders are concentrating their efforts on educating people that their centers focus on integrating faith and learning, unlike Christian ministries on campuses with a mission focused only on evangelism or worship.
While the conservatives believe the universities in the U.S consistently have issues with grievances concerning political correctness, liberal bias, and secular humanist ideologies, evangelicals indicate their misgivings concerning academia and lack of faith in our nation’s colleges. Study centers are working to change the way they are viewed and want to increase and restore the respect for learning and scholarship.
A great example of a successful Christian study center is The Center for Christian Study at the University of Virginia. Located just a block from campus, this center was created to serve students spiritually and intellectually and supports a religious willingness to take on science and the liberal arts.
Students at the University of Virginia have been using the center for over 40 years as a place to study, and also as a place to discover their own relationship between faith and learning. This Christian study center offers students a chance to utilize their free Wi-Fi, library, computers, and books, while Christian students also have the opportunity to socialize, attend a lecture, and receive mentoring or counseling based on their interests.
Christian Study Centers Reach Campuses Across the U.S.
A growth in interest for Christian study centers has been seen over the past ten years.
Currently, there are 24 Christian study centers at universities across the U.S. including Cornell, Yale, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin, and UNC in Chapel Hill. These centers are privately owned, funded and run by local Christians as well as school alumni. The study centers are utilized each week by hundreds of students and are staffed by Christian educators.
Study center leaders hope to change the public’s perception that just because people are religious, they are anti-science and anti-intellectual as well. According to Drew Trotter, executive director of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers, “We love knowledge and are grateful for the ways universities disseminate knowledge and work on integrating knowledge for the betterment of society. We appreciate that.”
These leaders of the Christian study centers want to let everyone know that they are open to science and eager to pursue a life of the mind.
The Christian study centers offer students a variety of ways to educate themselves about topics ranging from faith to science and have different groups they are welcome to join to learn more about these and other subjects that are often controversial in the religious world. Speakers range from authors who are evolutionary biologists, geneticists, physicists, and even atheists, who all have different religious beliefs and backgrounds.
The diversity of the scholars is intentional to evoke interaction that encourages students to think about their new careers and how to integrate them with their Christian beliefs so that they can live faithfully after college while contributing to the world.
Their focus on integrating faith and learning at these Christian study centers is much different than typical Christian ministries on campus who have a mission of only worship. In fact, these ministries are set up for members only, whereas the study centers are open to all people of all religions and are regularly used by people of all faiths and beliefs including Muslims, Catholics, and even atheists.
Students say they appreciate the spirit of open inquiry in a supportive environment at the Christian study centers. They don’t necessarily agree on trending issues such as the evangelical label, human sexuality, or even current political issues, but active leaders and students at the centers respect each other’s beliefs.
Sarah Macris, a biology student at the UVA lives in an off-campus woman’s dormitory that is sponsored by the local study center. She enjoys the atmosphere and her time spent at The Center for Christian Study at the University of Virginia and says, “The goal isn’t to shut down discussion by how right you are, it’s a conversation in which you love and care about one another in pursuit of truth.”
~ 1776 Christian