The heart and soul of Wilberforce Academy’s mission is to mentor college students, especially international students and visiting scholars, to become redemptive change agents, that is, people who want to be used by God to bring the healing, redemptive influence of the Gospel into society and the workplace. Romans 8:19 highlights the urgent need and the great opportunity to intelligently, creatively, courageously, and skillfully apply a Christian worldview to the biggest challenges facing our societies and workplaces: For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
Based upon the example of Jesus Christ, the Wilberforce Academy Fellowship offers three tracks:
Track 1: Begin the Fellowship by becoming a Colin MacLaurin Fellow at Anselm House (the Christian study center serving the University of Minnesota community), after which Academy Fellows devote themselves to subjects not covered during the MacLaurin Fellowship. Note that beginning in the 2017-18 school year, the Academy will host a monthly international dinner that brings together MacLaurin Fellows who are international, along with existing Academy Fellows.
Track 2: Standard customizable mentoring program. Academy Fellows carry a mantel of God-given responsibility as Christ-animated redemptive change agents who seek substantial justice, economic prosperity, and overall human flourishing in their home societies and workplaces until Jesus Christ returns.
Track 3: Redemptive Change Discussion Groups introduce international students and others to the vision of becoming redemptive change agents in their home societies and workplaces. The group is built around a five-week book study that includes excerpts from the textbook Creating the Better Hour: Lessons from William Wilberforce, and involves a group-led redemptive project in one of the student's home countries.
Three interview questions for potential mentees:
- What is/are the primary area(s) in which you hope to apply what you have learned through your education?
- What is/are the problems in your field and/or in your home society to which you can apply your Christian faith so that you can help find solutions to those problems?
- In what way(s) would you like a mentor to help you be effective in serving God to either apply what you have learned in your education and/or find solutions to the problems you have identified in your workplace and/or home society?
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND PROCESS
The training philosophy of the Wilberforce Academy Fellowship, which is summarized in 5 Cs (calling, competency, character, convictions, and community), includes the following:
- Focus on interpreting social and professional/academic realities in light of a Christian worldview and the Lordship of Jesus Christ over academic as well as private pursuits
- Transformational learning, including the readiness to experience a transformational crisis or challenge as a gift from God
- Reflective practices that develop consistent habits of the spiritual and intellectual life
- Commitment to undertake a redemptive project within 12 months of the completion of the Fellows program
- Customized learning designed to best fit the unique needs of each Fellow
- Demonstrations of intellectual, spiritual, and practical competencies
- Networking with organizations, professionals, and academics who can help Fellows achieve God’s purposes for them as redemptive change agents.
- Wholistic concern for mentees' spiritual development through a process called micro-discipleship.
The Academy recognizes four environments through which Wilberforce Academy Fellows grow and develop as redemptive change agents:
- Personal mentoring
- Virtual resourcing for those Fellows who are no longer being actively mentored but who want to utilize the Academy’s resources to continue developing their God-given capacities as redemptive change agents
- Courses and conferences
- International trips where Academy staff meet with Fellows in their home context for consultations, etc.
HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS
Academy Fellows, also known as mentees:
- Enroll in the online course Comparative Worldviews, which is taught twice each year by the Academy's founder. There is no charge for those who have been selected to be Academy Fellows.
- Identify competencies that need to be developed in order to effective Christ-honoring redemptive change agents.
- Meet once per month or more frequently with an Academy mentor in order to work on issues, concerns, and questions they have about becoming redemptive change agents in their home societies and workplaces. We discuss discuss pressing concerns and difficult questions involving faith, work, and society, as well as a text that integrates biblical truth and the Christian tradition with their concerns and interests.
- Occasionally complete assignments that demonstrate competencies and Christian character expected of redemptive change agents
- Study a five-step model for Christian social change, and learn how to apply it in their societies and workplaces.
- Final ceremony where Fellows are commissioned as redemptive change agents.
By way of sustained engagement, Wilberforce Academy Fellows are also:
- Occasionally invited to participate in special conferences, courses, and community meetings designed to augment the Mentee and Fellows programs, including the annual Christ Conquers the Culture of Corruption Retreat and the biennial Wilberforce Academy Global Summit.
- Networked with community and online resources that can enhance their capacity to develop as redemptive change agents.
- Occasionally visited by Academy staff who help provide counsel and advice on their work as redemptive change agents.
For more information about our curriculum, courses, and conferences, please go to our Curriculum page.
Frequently utilized texts:
- Miller, D. (1996). Discipling the Nations. Lakewood, WA: YWAM Publishing.
- Fikkert, B. & Corbett, S. (2012). When Helping Hurts. Chicago: Moody Press.
- Asmus, B. & Grudem, W. (2013). The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
- Pearcey, N. (2005). Total Truth. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
- Willard, D. (1998). The Divine Conspiracy. San Francisco: Harper.
- Sire, J. (2009). The Universe Next Door (5th ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Guinness, O. (2001). Entrepreneurs of Life. Colorado Springs: Navpress.
- Osburn, R. (2016). Taming the Beast: Can We Bridle the Culture of Corruption? St Paul, MN: Wilberforce Press.
- Stetson, C. (Ed.) (2007). Creating the Better Hour: Lessons from William Wilberforce. Macon, GA: Stroud & Hall.
- Mangalwadi, V. (2011). The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
As for core principles that are taught by the Wilberforce Academy (with a partial debt to Acton Institute):
- Dignity of the person
- Social nature of the person
- Importance of social institutions
- Christ's lordship over all created domains, including academia
- Redemptive work of Christ
- Rule of law, subsidiarity, and sphere sovereignty
- Creation of wealth
- Economic liberty
- Priority of culture
We agree with others that there are seven decisive realms of culture that shape every society, to one degree or another, and which need to be transformed by the work and wisdom of Jesus Christ. Our mentoring program includes references to these realms:
APPLYING FOR THE PROGRAM
With a few exceptions, only those college students and visiting scholars who live in the Minneapolis-St Paul area are currently being considered for the program. There is no program fee to enroll or participate in the program, but application must be made by downloading this form and mailing it (through the US Postal Service) to Dr. Robert Osburn, PO Box 130551, St Paul MN 55113. For further information, you can contact Dr. Osburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-402-2600.