Training in social capital theory and its dynamics as they specifically relate to diaspora ministry. Ways of gathering data and research methods for analyzing how social capital ebbs and flows in its sources and resources (primarily through other people) will be studied. The goal will be to practically apply what has been learned to implement effective diaspora mission strategies.
The course assumes basic knowledge of the issues and is designed to further equip the student so that they can effectively engage diaspora networks via social capital theory from an informed and practical point of view.
This is an essential course because topic is fundamental to the study and engagement of diaspora peoples. I have also intentionally made the title of the first course more accessible because, as important as ‘social capital' is for missional understanding and practice, the term itself can be offsetting. But the study of social capital is dynamic like diaspora networks themselves. I see social capital as being a "lifeline” to understanding diaspora mission because social capital is all about people and their relationships. Relationships are at the heart of missional ministry. So a firm grasp of social capital's theoretical underpinings will, in turn, empower and give vision to the student for meaningful and purposeful engagement in their ministries to diaspora peoples.
Both the bachelors and masters course have the Bible and a biblical understanding of diaspora at their core. Since social capital theory is built around human relationships and their dynamics, and the class is focused upon this within a diaspora context, the Bible certainly has much to say on this topic, too!
In my view, as for all my courses, I believe that teaching/learning social capital theory in relation to diaspora networks will require a multi-faceted approach utilizing demographics and social science research methodology as well as biblical and theological truths contextually applied. For both courses, relationships, group dynamics, and community participation will have to be examined in their contexts to be properly understood.
By definition and essence, diaspora is both interculturally diverse and cross-cultural in nature. The student and the teacher must actively and knowingly engage with diaspora recognizing that they will probably be taken out of their own cultural comfort zone. Along with this notion is the reality that social capital within diaspora networks is almost NECESSARILY intercultural. It is hard to see diaspora networks not being intercultural.
In my own teaching philosophy, I don't believe that only content-based instruction is enough. The assignments and even the purpose of the course itself must have some sort of practical outcome or learning will end with "head knowledge" alone.
For diaspora mission, I believe that learning will be most powerful on the experiential level. Exercises and assignments will be reflective in part, collaborative as much as possible, and sometimes with interaction among diaspora persons themselves. "Hands on" experience where the learner is engaged is invaluable for appreciating how social capital works within diaspora theory.