Winebrenner Seminary’s current Strategic Plan highlights collaborative relationships as one of three strategic priorities for 2018-2023. This internal commitment combined with the external challenges facing higher education in our current climate serve as an invitation to rethink how we seek alignment with our educational partners.
As we consider our collaborative partnerships, it’s helpful to consider whether these are progressing as we expect and whether our internal systems and practices are structured in such a way to maximize our efforts at collaboration. I propose that a shift from thinking in terms of pipelines to platforms will serve us well as we move into the future.
As I mentioned in the last post, a platform is something upon which other things can be built. The program at the Marion Correctional Institution (MCI) and the courses offered to the Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC) illustrate this simple definition. Each is built upon the platform of the Institute of Christian Studies (ICS). Further illustrating this point, the Great Lakes Region was able to build upon this further when they conferred credentials upon several students who graduated from MCI.
In addition to these current offerings, we are also talking with undergraduate educational partners about the possibility of Winebrenner offering courses at the high school level. These offerings would also be built upon the ICS courses, thus further illustrating how the ICS platform can be expanded.
There is no question that the rise of platforms is closely tied to innovations in technology. But, as illustrated with the MCI example, platforms are not exclusively technological endeavors since our courses at MCI are offered on-site. However, the increased emphasis on educational delivery systems utilizing technology is a major focus, especially during this time of decentralized working due to the Coronavirus.
This is not to say that there is not room for non-platform collaborative opportunities. For example, the work that Winebrenner completed with the Kingwood Church of God and the “History & Polity” course with the Allegheny Region Conference (ARC) aren’t as strong of illustrations of platform thinking as the examples provided above. I think what we’ll discover is that the opportunities to “build out” the platform will serve the organization better as we move into the future.
Based upon this assessment, it’s likely that Winebrenner will be pursuing more opportunities like MCI, CGGC, and exploring high school and less like Kingwood and ARC as we move into the future.
The next post will focus on some of the differences between pipeline and platform thinking, specifically as it relates to Winebrenner’s work on building a platform through “bachelor’s equivalency.”
– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President
– Image by Jordan Harrison, accessed via AdobeSpark