Stewardship on Blakely

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Dr. Long describing a tree to the class/ (Tatum Odegard)

At Seattle Pacific University, professors are expected to incorporate the Christian faith into their course content: Biology professors Dr. Eric Long and Dr. Tim Nelson tackle this task by establishing God’s creation as the foundation in which all exists.

Within the Christian Church, there are several interpretations of the creation story (Genesis 1-2). Since basic science textbooks do not encompass religious views, Christian scientists have to find alternative routes to reconcile the two clashing approaches.

Dr. Nelson, who has been teaching in the College of Sciences since 1992, is careful to note that he does not assume that everyone in the classroom identifies as a Christian.

“I always preface my classes by acknowledging that regardless of their personal beliefs, I think that it’s important to understand these issues about religion and science in the classroom,” said Nelson.

Dr. Long, who’s in his 12 year the university, approaches his ecology courses within the matters of Christian stewardship. He addresses God calling Christians to be “stewards of the earth” in Psalm 24:1, and how this role plays out in the context of studying ecology.

One of the ways that Biology students gain a first hand experience practicing stewardship and biology is through their experience at Blakely Island. As part of the course curriculum, students are given the opportunity to hike, canoe, and experience the overall serenity of the San Juan Islands.

“I try to make the argument that we cannot affectively steward the earth until we possess of deeper knowledge of how creation works,” said Long.

Long’s approach on stewardship in the sciences has had a profound affect on Biology students here at SPU, such as senior Alia Zieg, who has been a TA for Long’s introductory biology courses.

“I distinctly remember during my sophomore year, Dr. Long gave a joint talk with a theology professor Dr. Langford about ecological justice,” said Zieg. “He reminded us that we were put on this Earth to tend and to keep it. Hearing those words really fueled my desire to learn more about Earth, and to care for it as God wants us to.”

The trip to Blakely is also a bonding experience for students and faculty. Nelson recognizes the increase in the students’ verbal participation while on the island.

“I’ve noticed that students feel more comfortable opening up about questions they may have regarding the church and biology in a more intimate setting,” said Nelson. “It’s hard for them to be vulnerable in a classroom environment, and I think being all together on Blakely Island is a really unifying experience.”

During weekend trips to Blakely, both Nelson and Long hold an optional Sunday morning worship service outside for their students. According to post-course evaluations, the service was received well, and the students often referred to the experiences as “awe inspiring”

“I love being in a church building,” said Long. “But there’s something so powerful about being out in nature and recognizing God as the author of the creation that we study.”

At Seattle Pacific University, professors are expected to incorporate the Christian faith into their course content: Biology professors Dr. Eric Long and Dr. Tim Nelson tackle this task by establishing God’s creation as the foundation in which all exists.

Within the Christian Church, there are several interpretations of the creation story (Genesis 1-2). Since basic science textbooks do not encompass religious views, Christian scientists have to find alternative routes to reconcile the two clashing approaches.

Dr. Nelson, who has been teaching in the College of Sciences since 1992, is careful to note that he does not assume that everyone in the classroom identifies as a Christian.

“I always preface my classes by acknowledging that regardless of their personal beliefs, I think that it’s important to understand these issues about religion and science in the classroom,” said Nelson.

Dr. Long, who’s in his twelfth year the university, approaches his ecology courses within the matters of Christian stewardship. He addresses God calling Christians to be “stewards of the earth” in Psalm 24:1, and how this role plays out in the context of studying ecology.

One of the ways that Biology students gain a first hand experience practicing stewardship and biology is through their experience at Blakely Island. As part of the course curriculum, students are given the opportunity to hike, canoe, and experience the overall serenity of the San Juan Islands.

“I try to make the argument that we cannot affectively steward the earth until we possess of deeper knowledge of how creation works,” said Long.

Long’s approach on stewardship in the sciences has had a profound affect on Biology students here at SPU, such as senior Alia Zieg, who has been a TA for Long’s introductory biology courses.

“I distinctly remember during my sophomore year, Dr. Long gave a joint talk with a theology professor Dr. Langford about ecological justice,” said Zieg. “He reminded us that we were put on this Earth to tend and to keep it. Hearing those words really fueled my desire to learn more about Earth, and to care for it as God wants us to.”

The trip to Blakely is also a bonding experience for students and faculty. Nelson recognizes the increase in the students’ verbal participation while on the island.

“I’ve noticed that students feel more comfortable opening up about questions they may have regarding the church and biology in a more intimate setting,” said Nelson. “It’s hard for them to be vulnerable in a classroom environment, and I think being all together on Blakely Island is a really unifying experience.”

During weekend trips to Blakely, both Nelson and Long hold an optional Sunday morning worship service outside for their students. According to post-course evaluations, the service was received well, and the students often referred to the experiences as “awe inspiring”

“I love being in a church building,” said Long. “But there’s something so powerful about being out in nature and recognizing God as the author of the creation that we study.”

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Dr. Long lecturing to students during science lab on Blakely Island/ (Tatum Odegard)
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