The Big Issues in the University project started in March 2017 to help students consider how to bring a Christian heart and mind to the university, to inspire Christian conversations across the academic world, and to better serve the academic community. There are many great conversations already taking place and the aim of this project is to further pioneer, facilitate and connect such global conversations.


Project activities

Regional consultations

Regional consultations have taken place in several IFES regions. Organised in partnership with local movements, these consultations have brought together individuals – staff, academics and students – from different countries to share and learn together about the issues and questions facing Christians in their universities.

Goals of the consultation

  1. Vision building
    • Communicate the value and need of mission to the whole university
    • Expound the theology for an integrated approach to mission and the university
  2. Academics to think about their work from a Christian perspective
    • IFES staff see how academics can contribute to their mission to reach students
    • IFES staff, academics and students identify and think together about big issues in their universities and how a theological perspective is relevant
  3. Networking across and within academic disciplines, cities, countries and regions
    • Facilitate establishment of mentoring relationships
    • A global network of Christian scholars which shares ideas and resources
  4. Training – how to think Christianly about individual academic disciplines, manage time, life-work-ministry balance, publishing
    • Academics, students and IFES staff are equipped in how to approach the big issues they encounter
    • Students have greater confidence to discuss and reflect on their studies with a Christian perspective
  5. Future planning
    • Identify next steps depending upon the specific needs and opportunities of the region
  6. Analysis
    • Document existing and planned activities
    • Document the useful resources already available in local languages, as well as in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and English
    • Identify if there are major gaps in resources to support theological engagement with academic disciplines, and if so, what these gaps are
    • Ascertain the ways in which IFES could help in the absence of resources



The survey targets IFES staff, academics and students to help IFES gain a greater understanding of how Christians can be supported to integrate their Christian life and their academic life as they study and work at universities around the world. The survey has been disseminated through the IFES Engaging the University Facebook group and the IFES Engaging the University listserv.

The survey covers topics such as, the life and community of your university, current debates in your discipline, big issues in society and mental health, among others. The answers provided give IFES insight into the kinds of issues and challenges Christians are facing on campus, some of which are unique to a single university, while others are widespread across whole regions. This insight is crucial as we seek to strategically resource people working and studying on campuses around the world.


Dr Stephen Ney (University of British Columbia) is developing a module on the Anthropology and Culture of the University. The material was trialled at the English and Portuguese-Speaking Africa Institute for Staff Development and Training in Nigeria in June 2018.  This module will soon be available online.


An online course in two parts is now available, giving an Introduction to Engaging the University. Read more here.