APU Students Attend Faith in Action Conference

by Lauren Allen '07

Where can students find a rich experience in which they can explore the role of faith? The National Student Conference, Faith in Action, enabled six Azusa Pacific University students to explore the role of faith in past, present, and future social movements.

From January 12-15, 2006, Pamela Christian, Ph.D., assistant provost and program director for Global Studies, and the students attended civil rights venues where they were able to discuss faith, learning, and justice. The opportunity became available for Christian, who oversees campus-wide diversity training and the Office of Diversity Planning and Assessment, through the assistance of a grant from The Lilly Endowment Inc.

While at the conference, students participated in a variety of sessions including: “Teaching the Violent Edge of Nonviolent Reform,” “Waging Conflict Nonviolently,” “Social Justice within the Context of a Christian Faith,” and more. Sessions involved interactive presentations, in which students participated using conflict mapping, modeling, and role-playing to examine issues of power and social relationships. In addition, students examined symbolic levels of conflict using strategic approaches to change seemingly irreversible conflict.

APU students also investigated the divide within the Christian community over the appropriate role of social justice within the perspective of their faith, and how their findings could be reflective of the greater society.

“It was the first and possibly the only opportunity for our students at Azusa Pacific University,” said Christian. “The conference focused on the American Civil Rights Movement and offered unprecedented academic and cultural enrichment experiences for APU students to visit historical sites in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama.”

Students returned with knowledge about how peaceful resistance achieved social change during the civil rights movement and how to apply peaceful resistance to social transformation today.