As political revolution in the former Soviet Union lets loose economic, military, and educational reform movements, the religious revolution is poised to affect the currents of change in other areas of culture, especially higher education.
The emerging expressions of Protestant Christianity—seminaries, campus ministries, academic exchange programs—seem determined to capture the minds of Soviet citizens. Christian influence can be spotted in nearly every educational institution in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS):
• A short-term missions organization has launched a five-year effort to plant Bible-based ethics curricula in each of the 120,000 CIS public schools;
• An association of Christian colleges is spearheading an exchange program of Russian and American academics;
• An international educational institute is placing Western professors in universities across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
What may become the crown jewel of these efforts was unveiled recently: plans for a Christian liberal arts university in Russia.
“The conviction is widespread in the former Soviet Union that a new ethical basis for society—especially for the educational system—is imperative,” says Mark Elliott, director of the Institute for East-West Christian Studies at Wheaton College in Illinois.
Elliott brought together representatives of 38 Christian and professional associations for a one-day conference in April to brainstorm the possibilities of a joint Russian-American venture in higher education. Though there was near-total agreement on the need for a distinct Christian presence within Russian academia, participants disagreed over the most effective model. By the end of the day, two basic camps had emerged: one favoring a separate, ...1
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