Bo Cassell: Why I Teach

By Kelsey Luffmann and Katy Ward

At MNU, there are some professors students seek out not only for their courses, but for their friendship. Professor Bo Cassell is at the top of the list. When he’s not teaching or advising, Cassell can be found dialoging with students, hosting one of his famous campus-wide croquet games or yelling “Sociology rules!” around the behavioral sciences office.

Meet Bo Cassell

Associate Professor of Sociology

First Year At MNU: 2007

Education: Master of Divinity with an emphasis in cross-cultural studies, Fuller Theological Seminary; Master of Science in Sociology, University of Missouri-Kansas City; PhD in Sociology, University of Kansas (in progress)

Teaches: General Sociology, Marriage and Family, Cultural and Social Anthropology, Social Theory, Casework and Intervention, Sociology of Religion, Sociology and Film, Sociology and Law (co-teaches)

Accomplishments: Developed MNU Social Justice minor program; 2010 Diversity Makes the Difference award from Olathe City Council

It only takes a few minutes of conversation to learn that Cassell’s contagious energy is fueled by love for God’s people and a desire to see them reach their fullest potential. Though that passion has led him to travel the world and work in fields as varied as youth ministry, legal research and publishing, teaching is in his blood.

“My gift is teaching, my calling is equipping the church to participate in God’s kingdom and my passion is college students,” Cassell says. “All those factors pointed me to being a professor.”

For Cassell, those factors also mean that teaching at MNU is about more than coursework.

“It’s about helping students make the connection between who they’re becoming intellectually and who they’re growing to be as human beings, while tying that in to God’s kingdom purposes,” he says.

In accordance with Cassell’s vision, recent MNU sociology graduates are doing everything from studying gender inequality in the workplace to serving in adoption agencies. In these roles, they apply the sociological principles they learned at MNU in ways that will serve others. For Cassell, it’s that service that reveals God’s ultimate vision for our lives.

“Nobody on their deathbed looks back and says, ‘I wish I made more money,’ or, ‘I wish I spent more time organizing my lecture.’ What we look back on is this question: did I, or did I not, impact another person? A professor has the opportunity to impact students and be in the moment – to be present when a student is seeking life answers.”

Sociology graduate Josh Calhoun (’13) says that as an MNU professor, Cassell has done just that.

“He is one of the best reasons to be a sociology major at MNU,” Josh says.

Q&A

Q  What brought you to MNU?

A  I knew I wanted to be more connected with students -- to be part of their lives, and to be an influence in their spiritual journey, their life journey and their education.

Q  What is the value of studying sociology?

A  Sociology answers the questions that we never knew we were asking. It taps into areas of human behavior like inequality, social interaction and power dynamics that other fields do not study and may be unaware of their influence.

Q  For you, what is the most fulfilling part of teaching?

A  I love teaching content, but I also love participating in the lives of students. It is a blessing when you can create that relationship with students where they want you to pray with them and want you to be part of their journey. It is fulfilling to participate in the development of the eternal soul of the child of God. It is awesome to be at a university where we can do that intellectually and spiritually.