Bluffton student develops social justice curriculum
By Cara Echols
BLUFFTON, Ohio – Emily Short wears many hats. A bible and theology major with three minors (psychology, sociology, and peace and conflict studies) at Bluffton University, she recently used her knowledge in all of those areas along with a desire for social change to create an innovative summer camp curriculum.
A senior from Archbold, Ohio, Short constructed the worship curriculum titled “Ordinary People; Extraordinary God – Empowered by God to set God’s People Free.” While the main theme focused on God’s works through imperfect people, Short also used a social justice lens to explore the accomplishment of God’s purpose.
“The underlying message was God’s purpose is kind of social justice-oriented and is about living in community with one another, liberating the oppressed people and working toward a greater harmony within humanity,” said Short.
She began developing her curriculum in the Methods of Biblical Interpretations class under the instruction of Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, assistant professor of religion.
“At that point in the semester, I wanted nothing more than to escape the stress of school and go to camp,” said Short. With summer camp on her mind, she used the course assignment to create a curriculum that would explore varying methods of interpretation while remaining practical for camp.
Serving as a camp director for Amigo Centre in Sturgis, Mich., she was able to implement the curriculum on site. She used narrative analysis, word studies and feminist criticism to interpret the biblical stories of Samson, Gideon, Esther and Hagar. Short thought carefully about the audience and worked to ensure the teachings spoke clearly of God’s love.
“I needed to make sure I was also thinking about my audience and helping them grow in their faith and not submerging them too much in a certain tradition,” she said.
Short worked specifically to “keep it camper appropriate” while still offering the students the main points of the stories. She, along with others at the camp, introduced the theme verses Micah 6:8 and Jeremiah 29:11 into dramas, children’s books, activities and skits to engage the young campers.
Short has been involved with Camp Amigo since high school and has been camp director for the past two summers. She will continue in that role during the summer of 2018. Before graduating in May, Short will complete an internship with the camp during the spring term as program associate. While there, she hopes to develop a new curriculum for the upcoming summer camp.
After graduation, Short plans to go to graduate school. Her career goal is to become a professor of theology and biblical studies.