How peoples relate to each another can have far-reaching implications. This is especially true when interactions are not only individual but within larger groups and communities connected to more than one geographical location. This course seeks to understand the value and power of social capital (trust in relationships, motivators for participation, what causes groups/communities to rise and fall, etc) specific to diaspora theory. The student will gain fundamental knowledge for understanding and engagement of diaspora peoples through the lens of social capital.
The course is intended to be an introduction to create understanding for the student on the fundamentals of social capital theory as they relate to the dynamics of diaspora networks. There is also a component of practicum where knowledge is put into action.
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!
The missio dei informs and is the background of diaspora mission. This particular course on social capital and diaspora networks is so broad and comprehensive that the idea of one going to where God is already working will be fairly easy for the student to ascertain. As always we will focus on the incarnational missional approach to engage the individual for the purpose of community transformation through social capital dynamics in Christ.
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.