The Ohio State campus is a marketplace of ideas. Those ideas that are embraced have influence on individual lives and in society well beyond the campus.

The Thompson Institute seeks to thoughtfully consider these ideas and to humbly convey the wisdom, beauty, love, and truth of the Christian faith to the breadth of students and professors.

Dr. James KA Smith, philosopher at Calvin College, shares some thoughts on why a Christian institute of local scholars and OSU faculty might be beneficial to the intellectual life of Ohio State. Smith comments that if the university is a "meeting of the minds" and if it is a pluralistic environment then Christian voices ought to have a seat at the table.

The University Climate

There seems to be a growing sentiment in North American culture, especially among younger generations, that Christianity is not only unreasonable but that it is opposed to the common good. One can argue that a university context like Ohio State is a microcosm of this perspective. Religion in a secular university context is often studied only as a sociological phenomenon; academic research informed by religion is inherently met with suspicion of bias. It seems an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate students come to campus without adherence to any religion and they do not intend for that to change.

Students that come to campus as Christians often feel that their faith is not just challenged, but ridiculed. They must confine their faith to their private lives or student organization involvement. Christian faculty often feel as though they could be marginalized or their careers hindered by being vocal about their faith, even in extracurricular contexts.

The Importance of Christian Professors & Scholars

University professors and scholars are viewed as authorities of human knowledge, both inside and outside the university context. The ideas that win favor on campus can eventually shape our culture’s sense of what is true and real. There is not a more significant space that represents a public square of ideas in our region of the country than The Ohio State University.

Based upon the premise that the university is truly a pluralistic environment, The Thompson Institute seeks to engage with popular and important ideas on campus, while seeking to platform and support Christian scholars and professors to have a voice in this public square of ideas. We believe that despite various misrepresentations and misunderstandings of Christianity that exist in our culture, that a robust Christian witness will contribute to the common good of the life of the university.