News From Norlan DeGroot
Norlan DeGroot, MDiv, MA
Dec 18, 2020
Our Southeast Asia Coordinator Reports
Just What Is an Academic Audit Anyway?
This month I conducted several academic audits with MINTS-affiliated study centers in SE Asia. MINTS has a unique relationship with its affiliated centers. We provide academic and administrative support, but we also expect the centers to keep academic records and to ensure that the courses taught at the centers maintain MINTS standards.
In SE Asia, I perform an academic audit at established centers once a year to see how they are doing. Normally, I would conduct these audits in person, but this year I am using Zoom. Each audit covers the following categories:
Local Center Review
It is important to take an overall look at the center to make sure it is functioning well. I examine the effectiveness of the local coordinator. I also encourage the development of a board to oversee the work of the center. During the academic audit, I will often ask to meet with members of the board to determine their involvement with the center.
Each MINTS center is required to maintain a record for every student attending classes. Each record should contain the student's application forms as well as all the grades the student received in the courses. We also ask that the center keep course records showing when a course was taught, who taught it, and a list of the students who took the course along with the grades they received.
One goal of MINTS is to develop local teachers. When local teachers are used, MINTS asks the center to keep a faculty record showing the qualifications of each faculty member. This usually includes a curriculum vitae and any ordination records.
Most well-organized centers have a planned MINTS curriculum. During the audit, I ask to see the curriculum plan. I also ask questions to make sure the courses stay within the theology published in the MINTS course.
Many pastors do not have large personal libraries, so it is important for a local center to make books available for them to study. If needed, I will help formulate a plan for the center to acquire the necessary books.
Although travel is still restricted in Asia, countries are showing signs of opening up. India and Nepal have agreed to allow flights between Kathmandu and New Delhi. Other countries plan to reevaluate their travel restrictions every two weeks. With the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, an easing of restrictions should follow.
I hope to resume travel in the first half of 2021. Once I am able to travel again, I will need to follow an aggressive travel schedule to catch up with all the places I need to visit.
Items for Prayer
Please pray that international travel will resume soon. Online meetings and classes have been working well, but meeting in person is always better.
Give thanks that students and I can enjoy some time off from classes for a Christmas break. Pray that we can take full advantage of the season as we remember the work of Christ on our behalf.
Pray that returning students will be refreshed and ready to work when classes resume during the first week in January. Pray also for new students who will begin studying with MINTS at that time.
Pray that as I continue academic audits in January, local coordinators, students, and teachers will be encouraged in the work they are doing to bring sound theology to many pastors and church leaders in SE Asia.