Archived Voice Articles

Last year's projects are still ongoing

By Sally Jongsma

The end of a leave doesn't always mean the end of a project. For most of last year's Studies Institute fellows the work is ongoing. Dr. Keith Sewell of the history department spent his three-quarter release time continuing work on two major projects. The first, a short book titled Evangelical Reformational? A Question for Bible-believing Christianity, began as a short paper several years ago in response to a discussion in Australia about whether a Christian higher education institution should rest on a Reformational base or an evangelical one.

Dr. Keith Sewell

Dr. Keith Sewell

"People had the idea that the evangelical model would have broader appeal and the Reformed more a narrow one. I argue that in principle the Reformed base is much broader and the evangelical more narrow," says Sewell.

He believes that Reformational Christianity may need to restart, to reengage Christians and culture. And now may be a good time to do so. Many Reformed people are becoming more evangelical, but many evangelicals are increasingly receptive to the difference a Reformed worldview based on the order of creation makes in how they practice their faith and engage their culture.

"We live in a time when great change is taking place, creating a greater level of receptivity to what Reformational people have to say," he believes. He is writing his book in a way that "should be accessible to non-specialists but pass the scrutiny of specialists."

Sewell's second project focuses on revising his doctoral dissertation, Herbert Butterfield and the Interpretation of History, which is currently being considered for publication by a major publisher in England. Although the leave provided time to make progress, Sewell will continue to work on his writings.

Dr. Calvin Jongsma's half-time release was spent revising and writing a textbook for Discrete Mathematics. Jongsma, who teaches mathematics and logic and did his doctoral dissertation on the history of logic, says, "There's an approach to logic in philosophical circles that is totally ignored in mathematical circles." He is convinced that the philosophical approach is a better way to teach students how to do proofs. So years ago already, unable to find a text that used the approach he wanted, he wrote his own text adapting the philosophical approach for mathematics. A publisher was intrigued but didn't see a market for the book, since it was too different from what was being published at that time.

Recently, as part of their program review, the mathematics department decided to combine the mathematics course on proof and logic with Discrete Mathematics, a course that includes logic but taken is mainly by computer science majors. Now both mathematics and computer science majors take the combined course. Instead of having students buy his in-house printing of the logic text and a whole new text to use for other parts of the course, he decided to write new material for the other sections.

Work on the manuscript continued this summer with the assistance of one of his students, Kyle Fey. Fey, a mathematics major who had just taken the class, spent eight weeks going through the text, working problem sets, giving feedback, and helping to develop a solutions manual.

Jongsma teaches the course again in the spring and will further revise the draft as he goes through it this year. Once he's satisfied with it, he hopes to send a portion out to various publishers to see if there is any interest in it now since some texts are beginning to use similar approaches.

Dr. Jonathan Warner also used his release time to work on a textbook-an online text on microeconomics from a Christian perspective. His aim is to integrate economic theory with the concept of shalom and with biblical insights on ethics and the way in which an economy should operate. He wanted to explore whether a web text would allow easier linking to related and current topics than is possible in a traditional text.

"The project hasn't progressed as far as I'd like," and he's found that all the linking may make the material seem harder than it needs to at this point. So, he'll continue to work on it in the year ahead. Warner also took advantage of the time to sit in on a theology class on campus and continue work on development economics.