William & Catherine Booth College
More than 100 years after William Booth envisioned a University for Humanity, the seeds of his foresight have taken root in the rich, multicultural soil of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here, in the beating heart of a vibrant Canadian prairie city, William and Catherine Booth College fulfills its mission, providing university-level education within a Christian framework and developing faith-driven leaders against a backdrop of regional, national and global need.
“Booth College is unique in the world—an urban institution of higher learning dedicated to education, inspiration and action. Thanks to a dedicated faculty and a vision to expand its reach beyond the borders of North America, the college is teaching students how to think with an open mind, lead through knowledge and minister from the heart,” states Commissioner M. Christine MacMillan, territorial commander and chancellor of Booth College.
Established in 1982, Booth College is an accredited center of higher education offering a variety of on-campus and online undergraduate programs to a growing number of students from across North America and around the world. At the center of the college’s curriculum is Christian Studies, a general course rich in theology, out of which has grown faith-based programs such as Youth and Family Studies, Social Work and Urban Mission.
Booth College plans to serve over 500 students this year. Over the years, their embrace of a Christian-based university education pioneered the progress that has since established the college as a dynamic center of teaching excellence. Today, Booth College reaches across the country and around the world as a provider of specialized Salvation Army officer education. It is taking a leadership role in understanding and advocating on behalf of children and youth at risk around the world. It is launching a bold initiative to integrate its faith-based attributes with the needs of the neighborhoods that surround it. And Booth College has recommitted to scholarship by expanding and constructing a new library.
“These are exciting times at Booth College and we’re excited about the future,” says Jonathan S. Raymond, president and vice chancellor. “We’ve worked hard to develop new programs around innovative ideas that combine the riches of the Christian faith with scholarship and skills for service.”
Heart of the College
The library is the heart of any university and Booth College proudly opened the doors recently to a new, 10,500 square foot resource center. Located on the top floor of a heritage building in downtown Winnipeg, a short walk from the college campus, the library will accommodate over 53,000 books, journals and other materials to start, and eventually house another 12,000 items as acquisitions are made. According to Vice President Dr. Donald Burke, the library is essential to the college’s continued growth.
“Any institution of higher learning experiencing growth in enrollment and programming needs to support its students and faculty with the best in educational resources and library services. Through our on-campus library and access to a cooperative network of other college and university libraries in the Winnipeg area, our students and faculty have the necessary tools to ensure skill-based learning and scholarship.”
Specializing in the fields of Christian studies, social work, pastoral care, counselling and youth ministry, Booth College’s library also supports the school’s arts and sciences curriculum. Besides providing ample space for print and electronic research materials, the library offers expanded study areas.
“The entire facility is sunlit which provides a warm and stimulating environment for research and study,” reports Dr. Burke. “With room to grow, the library is positioned to provide up-to-date services well into the future.”
Advocating for Children in Need
When General John Larsson, international leader of The Salvation Army, declared that 2005 would be A Year for Children and Youth, Booth College responded to his call to influence the lives of children in need. In an effort to understand the subject and inform the public, the college launched
www.wcbc-sa.edu/kidsatrisk, a special website devoted to 666 million of the world’s children under the age of 15 who exist in difficult circumstances in third world cities.
The website focuses on providing in-depth information about children at risk. Each individual page illustrates the plight of children who live day-to-day with the sorrows and scars of poverty, wars, domestic slavery, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, sexual abuse, childhood pregnancies and child labor. Through facts, statistics and referrals to other web-links, the website presents a realistic, yet hopeful understanding of this important issue.
President Jonathan S. Raymond explains that the children and youth at risk website is an attempt to portray the disturbing state of many of the world’s children and youth so that people can better appreciate the ministry, mission opportunities and prayer emphasis of Salvationists and other Christians.
“A measure of a nation’s character is how they care for their children and the web page is the response of The Salvation Army Canada-Bermuda Territory and Booth College to General Larsson’s proclamation,” he notes. “The website is a notable response because it can reach out electronically to so many people and encourage them to not only be aware of the plight of the world’s children but also aggressively advocate and act on their behalf.”
Educating Officers Around the World
Thanks to a scholarship program made possible by The Salvation Army Canada-Bermuda Territory’s ongoing international mission outreach, Booth College is offering online, distance education courses to officers worldwide. This past year, the $50,000 scholarship fund provided enriched opportunities for 66 officers in grant-assisted territories (GAT) to participate in Booth College courses. This year, in partnership with IHQ, Booth College will offer scholarships to over 100 GAT officers to study online with the college.
“Many officers only have access to university-level continuing education opportunities through this specialized program,” conveys Commissioner MacMillan. “Through a combination of scholarships and technology, Booth College is having a positive influence on The Salvation Army’s global operations.”
Throughout the spring session, officer-students from 17 countries—South Africa, Jamaica, Russia, Georgia, Antigua, Guyana, Chile, Zambia, Moldova, Bahamas, French Guyana, India, Costa Rica, Spain, Haiti, Ukraine and Nigeria—studied online courses in the Bible, theology, ethics and social work. Some officers in Canada and the United States are also pursuing the courses, which provide a rich learning context to those who otherwise would not be able to access the advantages of education.
Since Booth College was established, the world has become increasingly urbanized. Over one billion people have drifted from rural areas to urban centers and it is estimated that in the next decade, that number will double. For The Salvation Army, today’s mission frontier for evangelism, discipleship and service is the urban poor who make up between 30 and 90 percent of the population of the world’s great cities.
True to the vision of William Booth whose work carried him through the meanest streets of London when it was the largest and most culturally-diverse city in the world, Booth College is situated at the heart of an urban landscape. As part of a global community that includes cities with populations as vast as 20 million souls, Winnipeg, with 700,000 citizens, has its own neighborhoods filled with varied and needy people.
Booth College is situated at the edge of poverty and promise. One side of the campus looks out on a prosperous downtown, the other overlooks the fringes of a neighborhood in need. This past summer, the college initiated its Urban Advance, a program to assess and interpret the neighborhoods immediately on its doorstep.
“Through a hands-on study of the needs of our neighborhoods and a soul searching evaluation of what our college can bring to the community, the students and faculty of Booth College will embark on a journey of compassionate outreach,” remarks Raymond. “The information gained will be used to shape the college’s curriculum in cross-cultural studies, social work and urban ministry. It will also help develop practicum opportunities for students seeking an urban experience working with Aboriginal, multi-cultural, immigrant and refugee populations in an inner-city setting.”
Blessed with Salvationist vision, a dedicated faculty and students who embrace the value of a Christian education, William and Catherine Booth College is a unique international community devoted to integrating life with faith. As the college moves closer to celebrating 25 years of education, inspiration and action, its mission remains the same as it did when it first opened its doors in 1982.
“Booth College has always sought to educate within the context of Christian faith, personal character, service to humanity and community leadership,” remarks Commissioner MacMillan. “We’ve done that remarkably well over the last 23 years and we look forward to continuing our quest in the 21st century.”