Dordt College News

Dordt College focuses on issue of childhood mortality

September 4, 2013

Each year, more than 6 million children die before they reach their sixth birthday. To raise awareness of this startling global crisis, Dordt College is holding a panel discussion and a 24-hour run beginning on Wednesday, September 11.

A panel session will kick off the event at 8:30 p.m. in the B.J. Haan Auditorium. The panel is made up of Dordt students, faculty, and community members who will share personal experiences they’ve had relating to infant and childhood mortality. Dean of Chapel Aaron Baart will facilitate the discussion.

The 24-hour run will follow the panel discussion, beginning at 10 p.m. Teams of any size will run as a relay around the college Green Space located in the middle of campus. Teams may sign up for a one-hour slot at Walk-ups are also welcome to join at any time; just stop by and run one or more laps. The run will conclude with a Praise and Worship event on Thursday night at 10 p.m.

These events mark the start of the college’s year-long AGILE (Approaching Global issues through Interdisciplinary Learning Experiences) program. This annual project involves more than 300 students who will learn about child mortality through the eyes of an NGO (non-governmental organization) that is responding to the child mortality crisis. The students will meet with NGO staff, educate themselves about the complex factors contributing to high rates of infant mortality, learn how the NGO is addressing it, and offer comments and critique to the NGO staff about what they’ve learned by looking at the issue from a variety of different angles. Several students will choose to continue their experience working with an NGO for a week during the AMOR (A Mission OutReach) program.

Within participating classes in different disciplines, students will explore the issues that contribute to the problem as seen from particular fields of study. They’ll learn how even the questions they ask affect what they see and learn.

Linking this year’s project to the AMOR program is a conscious effort to help students think about their responsibilities to the world around them.

“We want students to bring themselves to this issue,” says Statistics Professor Dr. Nathan Tintle, one of the faculty leaders of the project. To do that, faculty leaders are increasing the connections between the college academic curriculum and its co-curricular program so that students develop an understanding of Christian living as something that affects every part of their lives. He hopes that through this project students will see what it takes, as part of a Christian community, to educate themselves about a global issue, contribute to the conversation, and then act on what they learn.

“We want to move from a missional tourism model to one in which students develop a global vision of living in God’s world,” says Dean of Chapel Aaron Baart. He wants students to serve in humility, not out of charity, realizing that they may have more to learn than to give.

“Our job is much bigger than preparing students for specific careers,” says History Professor Dr. Paul Fessler. “Projects like this get to the heart of a Dordt College education.”

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