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NASCUMC to Launch a New Academic Exchange with Japanese Partners

Katie Tait
January 7, 2019

Dr. Paul Shew, Mark Hanshaw and Dr. Collette Pierce Burnette sign the MOU, establishing a partnership between AGU and NASCUMC

Students and faculty at United Methodist colleges and universities in the United States and Japan will soon have new opportunities for shared research and cultural exchange. Leaders of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) and the vice chancellor of Aoyama Gakuin University, a Methodist-related institution in Tokyo, signed a formal cooperation agreement at the January 2019 NASCUMC meeting in Arizona.

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), The United Methodist Church’s leadership development agency, serves NASCUMC in administrative capacities.

In addition to student and faculty exchanges and joint research programs, the participating groups plan to explore opportunities for the establishment of a Japan campus that could be used by U.S. institutions to launch in-country collaborative programs.

“This is an important moment for each of our institutions,” said Paul Shew, Aoyama Gakuin vice chancellor. “Our institutions, located on opposite sides of the globe, have been linked by a common history. Yet, in this moment, we are taking steps to show how these historical connections can manifest in the implementation of shared programs that have the capacity to change the lives of students.”

The meeting of NASCUMC leaders and representatives of Methodist-related institutions from Japan is part of a larger initiative to spur direct collaborative relationships between historically Methodist institutions around the world.

“The schools, colleges and universities shaped by Methodist hands around the globe represent some of our greatest assets as a denomination and vividly display the breadth of the denominational legacy,” said Rev. Mark Hanshaw, Ph.D., GBHEM’s associate general secretary of its Division of Higher Education. “The proof of the global impact of Methodism is uniquely displayed in this emerging connection.”

Dr. Collette Pierce Burnette, President of NASCUMC presents Dr. Paul Shew from Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU) in Japan with flag. The Flag symbolizes the connection between the United States and Japanese institutions in the Methodist tradition.
In addition to NASCUMC and GBHEM, the engagement between the U.S. and Japanese institutions has been supported by the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU) and the United Methodist Higher Education Fund.

“The sort of cooperation that is emerging through this program will offer unique experiences for students on both sides of the globe,” said Rev. Dr. Thomas V. Wolfe, president of Iliff School of Theology.

Leaders of NASCUMC college and universities met January 3-4 for discussions on a variety of long-range programs and policy concerns.

NASCUMC is the second-largest denominationally-affiliated network of schools in the United States. The organization comprises 119 member institutions, including 93 colleges and universities, 13 seminaries and other institutions, including secondary schools.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.