Southern Seminary launches Global Campus ‘to reach the nations’
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary launched its new Global Campus allowing students who serve in ministry around the world to complete a master’s of divinity degree through distance learning options including online, seminary leaders announced Feb. 12.
“We do not merely want to have a program that allows people to access Southern Seminary online,” said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. when he announced the campus in chapel 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 the 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.
Mohler said the digital age has opened new opportunities to “eclipse geographical boundaries” and provide theological education to anyone regardless of location. He said faculty trips to China have led to requests from Christians there to continue learning from seminary professors. The Global Campus, Mohler 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 during the week of Feb. 9 for Great Commission Focus, an emphasis on the call to missions and evangelism. Mohler said in a video recorded for the Global Campus 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,” Mohler 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. Katie and her husband Jonathan Gibson are preparing for a move to west Asia, and said even though she will have no access to campus that she can “benefit from the wealth of resources and knowledge available at SBTS.”
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 at the Louisville campus. J-term courses are week-long sessions held in the winter or summer between semesters. Southern Seminary operates nine extension centers across the United States: New York City; Boston, Massachusetts; Columbia, Maryland; Knoxville, Jackson and Nashville, Tennessee; Greenville, South Carolina; Springdale, Arkansas; and Washington, D.C.
Students can also 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) 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 faithfully 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.