Nagel Institute Invites APU Professor to Help Research Sociopolitical Issues

Kay Higuera Smith, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, joined 9 other North American scholars and 10 Indian scholars last summer to conduct a two-week intensive seminar in India. As part of the Nagel Institute of Calvin College, the team comprised a wide range of experts, including biblical and political scholars, sociologists, and economists, each uniquely qualified to enrich the discussion about the drivers and consequences of economic and social change in the country.

During their stay, the scholars traveled to Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), Chennai, and Delhi, visiting slums, hospitals, leper colonies, religious health care centers, and political leaders to gather empirical data and anecdotal information to help them assess needs and form recommendations for development. Smith applied for the opportunity hoping to gain valuable insight into Christianity in the East as she prepares to teach courses in APU’s new religious studies program launched this fall. She returned with a sobering new appreciation for the plight of Christians in the region and witnessed the unusual phenomenon of Christians and Muslims supporting one another amidst severe persecution-- experiences that will enrich her curriculum and offer valuable insight to her students.

In the coming months, the seminar participants will continue to collaborate, generating follow-up presentations and an edited book of essays. Smith will partner with an Indian scholar to explore violence in the region and Christians’ response to catastrophe as part of the team’s goal to determine the causal patterns underlying the relationship between social and economic progress in India.