We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we have to live together." These words from Martin Luther King Jr. inspire the mission of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University.
OCU’s World House seeks to cultivate a systemic transformation for a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world, guided by the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church.
Mark Davies created the institute as a means of focusing the work of several programs at OCU, striving for a common purpose. Rev. Dr. Davies, a UM clergyman, is the institute’s director and the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics at OCU.
Since 2003, OCU has recognized the importance of incorporating service learning in its curriculum to connect classroom work with enhancing the life of the broader community. These classes now are coordinated through the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership, which also sponsors the World House Scholars Program.
As many as 10 first-year students and five sophomores are selected each year to join this learning cohort focused on issues of peace, justice, and ecological sustainability.
Also OCU’s Owen Wimberly Center for Continuing Education in Religion hosts a number of learning events for clergy and laity. This includes the Neustadt Lectures, dedicated to Jewish studies, and the Willson Lectures, which cover a variety of topics.
Additionally, the World House Institute promotes interfaith service and cooperation through a variety of programs. OCU has been working with Interfaith Youth Core to learn and implement best practices from other universities. This has led to the start of a Better Together student group this spring. The institute also hosts the Oklahoma Interfaith Power and Light Program, whose mission is to help religious communities promote renewable energy, conservation, and energy efficiency.
The World House Institute seeks to realize the vision Dr. King cast in the same speech that included the words opening this article: "… black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Muslim and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other."
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