Friday, April 25, 2014

Dispatches from Gouda

I cannot believe that it is over already. It is Saturday and I am on my way back to Grand Rapids, Michigan after a week (or so) of travel in the Netherlands. I have truly enjoyed Dutch hospitality, met great people and learned a lot about Christian higher education in this secular nation. I have visited Christian university of applied sciences in Ede (CHE), Driestar Educatief in Gouda,VIAA (formerly Reformed University) in Zwolle, and Protestant Theological University in Groningen with a presence also in Amsterdam. Two things stood out for me from these visits: first, the unique role played by the state whereby every institution is fully supported by the government in terms of finances. This means that the Christian university gets 100% funding from the government in the same way a public university does. And yet these Christian universities are able to hire only Christian teachers and staff. They are, however open to students from all faith backgrounds. Second, is the new practice of applied research in these Christian universities where there are paid research positions (lectorates) charged with conducting research that is directly tied to the teaching and curriculum of the institution. The research results are then brought back into the classroom, office and curriculum of the institution in order to improve their offerings. Unlike research in research universities, these institutions carry out research that is directly tied to what and how they teach so that it can improve their work. Of course research universities do some of this research but there is also research to enhance one's standing among peers or research to advance certain theories. The kind of research I have found at the Christian universities is applied. Indeed, it is expected that the research carried out is applied back to the work of the teachers, students, and administrators at the institution. I find this very useful for advancing the work that IAPCHE institutions are involved in. Coffee seems to be like the air we breath--it is the one constant in all offices and homes (along with tea) so I am guessing I might want to see how coffee and tea growers from Kenya contribute to this national addiction­čśâ. That is a project for another time. 
Oh and I must say I enjoyed the food as well especially this brown piece here
called Kroket which I know is not very good for my health but tastes great. 
And of course some asparagus (white), vegetables, potatoes, and meat as seen here:
But above all is the cheese. I think I might become a little picky about my cheese when I next visit our local grocery store. And I guess I will not mind bread with butter and a slice of cheese on top for breakfast. I love learning from other cultures and grateful for these opportunities. It's time for breakfast. 

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