A Christian Rationale for Diversity at Pepperdine
Pepperdine University is guided by its foundational Christian mission that inspires in us a profound respect for and love of the diverse cultures where we live, work, and study-both in culturally diverse Southern California and on our many campuses throughout Europe, Asia, and South America.
Diversity is central to our mission and is essential to the health of our institution. A diverse university community of students, faculty, staff and board members enriches the learning experience for all, and prepares us for the multicultural world in which we reside.
As stated by Dr. Ira Jolivet, Associate Professor, Religion and Philosophy Division, Seaver College:
"Our mission articulates two commitments: one to the highest standards of academic excellence, and the other to Christian values. Both require respect for diverse peoples' worldviews." It also calls for us to lead by example.
"From the beginning of higher education in this country, schools have sought to inculcate in students the capacity to assume responsibility as deliberative citizens. Our mission reflects this intent by insisting that we strengthen students for "lives of purpose, service, and leadership." A diverse student body, faculty, staff, curriculum, and co-curriculum support this mission by broadening students' horizons and contributing to an objective search for truth (Seaver Strategic Plan 4).
That search for truth requires critical thinking, which is characterized by the ability (among others) to empathetically imagine perspectives and worldviews other than our own. Such an understanding of difference is necessary to examine our own assumptions and values. Furthermore, such understanding equips students for lives of purpose, service, and leadership in a pluralistic society and an increasingly interconnected world.
As a Christian university, we inherit the Israelites' injunction to love the stranger (Deut. 10: 17-19). Jesus takes us even farther by embracing the stranger as our neighbor who is not only to be loved, but to be loved as ourselves (Luke 10:25-37). Likewise the apostle Paul declares that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female in Christ (Gal 3:28). Thus, diversity reflects the character of God.
Hoping to nurture our students' understanding of the Christian faith, we must equip them with the skills to transport themselves empathetically and imaginatively into another culture, the culture of Jesus and Paul. The mission's Christian focus, even more than its focus on academic excellence, requires the study of diverse worldviews and cultures."
From the University Diversity Council Strategic Plan for Diversity, 2007.