In the wake of recent announcements establishing the Ambassador College School of Biblical and Ministerial Studies, we have received a number of questions about our Diploma Program. These queries were not seeking clarification of facts, but rather focused on the purpose behind the Diploma Program.
The Certificate Program has clear rationale in providing for the continuing professional needs of the ordained ministry. The M.A. Program has purpose as a vehicle for developing future leadership for the Church. But why the Diploma Program?
AS you know, higher education in the western world has undergone some enormous upheavals in recent years. Some of the time-honored institutions in this country are examining their real purpose. Educators want very much to make higher education relevant to today's world. As the scientific achievements of the post-war world have become more commonplace, the larger questions of life continue to loom OR the horizon — Why are we here? How should we live our lives? Is there a supernatural power? What about morality and ethics? — all are very cogent questions of the 1980's.
Those of us on the administration of Ambassador College appreciate the challenges placed before us when Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the policy and purpose statement creating the new school. As the weeks have gone by since Mr. Armstrong's announcement, we have increasingly realized the opportunities before us. What in reality has occurred is that we are now privileged to develop an entirely innovative type of program. Centering on those distinctive qualities which truly made Ambassador College unique over the years, we will now have a program which will give young men and women of the Church a foundational education in the more penetrating and significant dimensions of life.
Higher education has many varied forms and directions. Each individual needs to assess his or her own goals, but all students should have a firm understanding of why they were born, where they are going in life, and how to get there. Our new diploma program will retain those courses which have been so successful over the years in dealing with such subjects. Principles of Living, Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, Old Testament Survey, Marriage and the Family, and a number of other courses like these will form the core of the curriculum for the program.
For this entire 30-unit program (whether taken during the regular school year or in summer sessions), the student will concentrate on these areas without being compelled to pursue other areas of study such as a foreign language, American history, or English. In fact, the whole purpose for this type of program is to help the student better understand life and "find himself" as they say in the vernacular.
Another important element of the program will be a thorough career guidance system. After this diploma program, a student may well feel that further college is not for him. Maybe entering a trade will be in order. On the other hand, this student may realize that additional college is very necessary — but not just any college program. Using the resources of our career services office, the student will be better able to select the college or university which will. best serve his or her needs. Regardless of whether or not this person will ultimately earn a college degree, he will have received a solid foundation in the most important knowledge of life.
Another direct benefit of this type of program will obviously be in the social and recreational opportunities for young men and women in the Church. As you know, so many of our scattered congregations do not offer very many chances for social interaction among young people of like faith, simply because of geography.
Personally, I see this diploma program as a rich opportunity for my own son (or daughters, for that matter) who is still some years away from college. I would like him to obtain a bachelor's degree, but this program, offering foundational understanding might be just the thing for him during these formative years of life. He could enter immediately after completing high school, or as a meaningful "change of pace" sometime during his academic program at another college. I feel that this would be vital not only in terms of his future career direction in life, but in terms of his spiritual and moral development. And who knows, he might even meet that one person at Ambassador College who, at some future date, will become my-daughter-in-law!
As I mentioned earlier, this new diploma program which Mr. Armstrong has established is quite innovative. It is not an academic degree program, but it does allow us to deal directly with some critical issues central to the development of college-age people.