MidAmerica Nazarene University has enjoyed a strong partnership with European Nazarene College (EuNC) since 1977. Located on the Swiss/German border in the heart of Europe, EuNC has largely served as a higher education institution dedicated to the principle of educating and preparing Nazarene pastors for ministry in Europe. EuNC has a main campus in Büsingen, Germany, and 17 Learning Centres (satellite education centers) in 15 countries throughout Europe. Often, these satellite locations are church buildings which EuNC rents from local congregations.
MNU has helped EuNC achieve its mission for over thirty years by offering its Bachelor of Arts in Religion on EuNC’s main campus for those European students wishing to earn a U.S. regionally accredited bachelor’s degree so that they can eventually pursue graduate level programs. Now, EuNC is seeking accreditation by a European institution.
However, over the course of the last two decades, EuNC has gradually shifted its focus away from its main residential campus in Büsingen to its satellite commuter locations spread throughout Europe. Each year, full-time enrollment on the main campus has declined and in the last year there were only 13 students remaining on a campus that can accommodate up to 100 persons. The only way that the main campus has survived is that the Nazarene Church has recognized its value in preparing pastors for ministry and has been willing to heavily subsidize the campus. Recent economic realities and a global recession have forced the Church to look for new ways to reduce its own expenses and closing the main campus is one possible solution. In addition, EuNC realizes that many of its students prefer to focus on education provided through its Learning Centres where they are already involved in ministry.
EuNC is in an ideal location along the Rhine river and Rhine Falls. It has access to high-speed rail service which puts it within 4 to 8 hours of many of the cultural and financial capitals of Europe. Paris for example is only 4 hours away.
The opportunity that exists is to have new and innovative semester and short-term abroad programs and academic travel experiences for U.S. students. The bigger opportunities that exist are an opportunity for MNU to positively impact and strengthen its curriculum in ways that provide a distinctive college experience and serve as an enrollment draw.
MNU is creating innovative academic travel and semester abroad experiences for U.S. students. EuNC’s physical facilities would give the university a permanent location that can legitimately be called “MNU Europe”. These academic experiences will be offered to students who are full-time students at other universities as well.
New knowledge and technology make offering semester abroad experiences easier than any point in history. Thanks to the internet, video conferencing capabilities, and learning management systems it is possible for an MNU teacher to spend two weeks in Europe teaching semester abroad students while still maintaining contact with their classes back in the United States. Professors no longer need to be scheduled to spend an entire semester abroad where student/teacher ratios may not be as profitable. Technology also allows for pre and post class assignments to be easily scheduled and tracked adding to the quality and length of shorter academic travel courses. Finally, technologies like Skype™ which offer cost-effective and regular visual communication may put parents at ease about encouraging their students to consider a longer period away from home.
In addition to being a source of innovation, new technological capabilities may also be changing attitudes towards the feasibility of an intercultural experience for all MNU students. The ability of faculty to spend less time on the ground in Europe and the capability of parents to communicate with their students via Skype™ represent shifts in perception that make this an opportune moment to consider MNU Europe.
In summary, the combined forces of 1) students seeking more amenities and services for their tuition dollar, 2) the need to prepare graduates for a global workforce, 3) the unexpected occurrence of EuNC closing its residential campus, and 4) new technologies that allow faculty to teach class at a distance and students to stay in contact with their families, create a potential source of innovation related to “MNU Europe”.
MidAmerica Nazarene University already has an innovated Go Global certificate program. The university wants to be known as an institution with “global impact.” In addition, a new general education proposal that is being considered by the faculty anticipates requiring every student to take a required “worldview” signature course and to complete a course that includes a significant “intercultural experience”. Having its own campus in Europe will enable MNU to accomplish its mission, Go Global certificate program, and GenEd curricula in a more integrated and cohesive manner. MNU undergraduates and graduate students will have the opportunity to study and travel in some of the most ideal scenery and cultural centers of Europe.
Adapted from a Business Proposal for MNU Europe by Dr. Mark Ford