NNU News

What is Cornerstone?

May 26, 2015

First-year NNU students are beginning to receive their fall course schedules. One of the most common questions among incoming first-year students and their parents is: “What’s Cornerstone?”

Cornerstone is a first-semester course that introduces students to Northwest Nazarene University by helping them see how the different parts of their NNU education fit together. How can I become the kind of person employers want to hire? How can I make good decisions about life paths? How do the different courses I take, even outside my major, help me with these questions? Cornerstone seeks to build a foundation for students to experience a glimpse of what awaits them at NNU.

The semester takes off with speakers from our School of Business, Career Services, Chaplain’s Office, and Department of History to help students see how a liberal arts education prepares them for life in and out of the workplace. We will then read and discuss “Why College Matters to God” by Rick Ostrander, discussing what study at a Christian university has to do with a life of Christian faith.

Throughout the class they will be prompted to consider their own interests, and to describe the meaning of NNU’s values of Truth, Transformation, Service and Community.
Next, we will read Alan Paton’s classic “Cry, the Beloved Country,” not only as a story but as a common experience to study through different lenses. Professors from various academic disciplines will explain the questions they would bring and the problems they would seek to address in the situations the book describes, as well as the way their disciplines’ work to serve the world here and now. Students will then consider which disciplines’ questions and problems they find most intriguing, helping them think about their own life directions.

Throughout the course, students will build community through occasional small group meetings. They will engage in the life of the university outside of the classroom as well, participating in service activities and attending an art event, a musical performance, special speakers, and/or a theater production. Most class sessions will be discussion based with their assigned professor and classmates. Students and professors will also attend large-group sessions together to engage with special speakers.

With appropriate instruction, students will write regularly to help them process and consolidate their learning. They will be responding to questions to prepare for each class; reflecting on their out-of-class experiences; and explaining how their NNU education connects to faith, discernment, and employment. Throughout the class they will be prompted to consider their own interests, and to describe the meaning of NNU’s values of Truth, Transformation, Service and Community. To complete the semester, students will outline a plan for what service activity they might pursue in future semesters, describing how it relates both to academic study and to their own questions.

We are very excited to meet your sons and daughters and introduce them to the culture and opportunities of NNU!


Dr. Julie Straight
English Department Faculty
Cornerstone Coordinator

Heidi Tracht
Director of the Center for Academic Success & Advising
Cornerstone Coordinator