Theology professor Dr. Rebecca Laird stood in front of her new class for the semester and greeted them on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
“Hello. You don’t know it, but I’ve waited eight years to meet you,” she said.
For the first time in PLNU history, “Women in the Christian Tradition” is being offered as a general education course.
“The fact that it is the first year this course is being offered is kind of telling of how difficult it can be sometimes to see action and difference in culture, especially a Christian culture.” said sophomore Kennedy Folly.
This course was introduced as a GE at the start of last semester, taught by both Laird and Dr. Stephanie Smith Matthews.
“[This course] helps our students have a wider vision of the history and the purposes of the church,” Laird said. “We have a predominant number of female students, and so to hear any story that doesn’t include women’s voices seems to be a problem to me.”
What makes this course different from other Christian Tradition courses is its emphasis on the ways in which women have contributed to the history of Christianity.
“I think what we offer is great, but like with any subject we live in a time where we know that multiple perspectives and voices tend to enrich the learning,” Laird said.
This course also addresses issues regarding gender and equality in larger society.
“What is special about this class is how open to the discussion it is,” Folly said. “No certain mindset or beliefs are required to come into this course, and the perceptions you walk in with will not affect your overall experience in the class.”
The boy-to-girl ratio is not a new topic discussed among PLNU students. There are more women than men on campus, and many students believe classes are still male-dominated.
“I think the issue of gender is everywhere in our culture. We’re trying to figure out, culturally, ‘What does gender mean or who are we called to be?’” Laird said.
But what about the boys? Why should they take a course about women in Christian history? That is exactly the point Laird is trying to make with this course.
“Women sit in classes where all of the writings have been written by men and the teacher is male and we never even think about it as being somehow a gender imbalanced conversation,” Laird said. “But now that it might be the opposite, a female professor, writings by mostly female and it’s like ‘Oh! What about the boys?’”
This class has been designed to give students a deeper, richer understanding of Christian tradition. This means including female writers who have been left out of the conversation for years.
“Without [the writings of females] we’re missing the influence of some really important voices.” Laird said.
“Women in the Christian Tradition” is a class created to show different perspectives.
“Every Christian university needs this class.” said Dr. Laird.