Trinity Western takes leadership degree program to China
By Frank Stirk | Wednesday, January 25, 2012
LANGLEY, BCA Canadian Christian liberal arts university has expanded its reach into China, teaching values-based leadership skills to that country's leaders.
Last fall, Trinity Western University (TWU) launched its Mandarin-language Master of Arts in Leadership program in China, in a mainly online format. It aims to teach universal Christian values to China's business and government leaders.
Christian values "produce social harmony and productivity during times of increasing global competitiveness," says Stan Remple, the program's developer and director.
"Christian values, are…fundamentally people relationship values. And so what we do is introduce those values into the decision-making process towards business success. That's a way in which the Chinese have not been approaching business valuesand which we in the West are losing, even though that is what originally made us strong."
The 24-month, part-time program began in May 2011 with 14 students. The language of instruction was English. In October, a second cohort began the program, but this time in Mandarin. That is now the program's sole language of instruction.
"We are seeking to serve Chinese business leaders by doing this," says Remple, who has been to China more than 20 times in the past 10 years.
He believes a rapidly expanding global economy could perform even better should its "formal-values vacuum" be filled. "Value-based leadership produces the most competitive businesses today," says Remple.
"There's not a large percentage of Chinese who are fluent enough in English to study well in English," he adds. "And in the business community, with things progressing so fast, they just can't send needed managers overseas."
The program seeks to instill in China's business leaders the essentials of servant-leadershiplove, service, collaboration, humility and excellenceso that they can, in turn, help their managers realize more of their leadership potential.
Remple says the instructors make it very clear that all these values are both biblical and universal. Biblical values and principles are taught, but instructors also cite other current leadership sources.
"I've been able to reference my relationship with Jesus," says Remple. "As long as I speak from a personal point of view, it presents no difficulties. But as soon as I speak as though 'you need to also be that,' that's a different thing. This is reasonable because we are committed to respecting everyone's beliefs, convictions, and established authority."
But for Remple, much more important than teaching these values to students is making sure that they see them being consistently lived out in the lives of their instructors.
"Our faculty," he says, "are the programhow we live as Christians and are we walking-the-talk-type peoplerecognizing that how an instructor will actually interrelate with students is going to be what students remember most."
The instructors, who teach in person and online, are mostly Chinese expatriates who are very fluent in both English and Mandarin. Remple admits he "wondered where we would ever find people like that. God's been very good to us. All of our current instructor requirements now have been met."
The Mandarin-language MA leadership program is one of several initiatives that TWU, Canada's largest Christian university, has made in China recently. During a visit to China in November with a B.C. government trade mission, TWU president Jonathan Raymond signed new agreements with two universities and extended the existing agreements with two others.