NAIITS Educational Programs

NAIITS encourages the development and implementation of Indigenous learning styles and world views through encouraging the development of a body of written work that addresses biblical, theological, and ethical issues from within Native North American and other Indigenous perspectives. We do so in concert with those of other ethnicities who would speak into this context. NAIITS currently has five degree program partnerships offering MA and Ph.D programs.

We seek to facilitate the creation of foundations for a) the visioning of new paradigms to reach Native North Americans and other Indigenous peoples with the Good News of Jesus; and, b) the contextualization of the Good News in Indigenous communities

We seek to develop theological partnerships with other cultural communities of faith which will ensure the voice of Jesus is heard in all ways and will ensure biblical orthodoxy in all things.

NAIITS is dedicated to genuine dialogue with the historical traditions of Christianity and values the written and living resources encompassed in these traditions

MA - Indigenous Community Development

  • Details
    Program Objectives

    The Master of Arts with a specialization in Indigenous Community Development Studies (MA/INCD) program focuses on the concept of a mutual learning exchange between cultures within and beyond North America. The program is multidisciplinary and strives to develop each co-learner’s heart and mind through the disciplines of anthropology, missiology, theology, Bible, church history, ethics, and spiritual formation. The program is holistic in scope, seeking to create opportunities for co-learners to gain both knowledge and experience appropriate for the 21st century. The Acadia Divinity College faculty is dedicated to equipping men and women for meaningful engagement with cultural diversity, including global and local cultural contexts. Our unique program provides teaching from alternative epistemologies and pedagogies that assist co-learners to create informed paradigms beyond traditional Western models. Guided field experience is crucial to the co-learner’s success. This program is offered in partnership with Acadia Divinity College offering an almost entirely Indigenously taught program.


    Our unique program provides teaching from alternative epistemologies and pedagogies that assist co-learners to create informed paradigms beyond traditional Western models. Furthermore, it offers three optional choices: Course Completion Option, Project Option, or Thesis Option.

    Integral to the MA-INCD program is the guided field experience(s) with a development agency either domestically or internationally. This gives you the experience needed to fully understand the realities of the field while being mentored by people already effecting change in the world. You will have the opportunity to take what you have learned in the classroom and apply it directly to the issues you will face in your future career as a development facilitator.


    NAIITS, in conjunction with Acadia is dedicated to equipping men and women for meaningful engagement within their own communities, other local cultural contexts as well as globally. The MA/INCD has been designed and tailored for Indigenous people, those serving in Indigenous communities, and others simply interested in a non-Western approach to community development education. Indigenous leaders – academics and community practitioners alike, have developed it. In fact, the majority of instructors for the MA/INCD are Indigenous North Americans. Our unique program provides teaching from alternative epistemologies and pedagogies (androgogies), as well as practitioner skills that assist co-learners in the creation of informed paradigms for community development beyond traditional western models.


    Courses are available in flexible, accessible formats. Online-hybrid options allow students to continue to live in their communities while studying. Intensive summer courses provide face-to-face classroom experience. Wrap-around conference courses related to the NAIITS Annual Symposium stimulate learning. Elective courses allow you to further tailor the program to your own learning and ministry environment.

    Mutual Learning Community

    Join with colleagues currently working in Indigenous contexts. Grow in your leadership capacity as you build relationships and experience one-to-one and small-group mentorship.

  • Course Framework
    Biblical Studies (9 Credits)

    Hebrew Scripture Foundations
    A general introduction to the historical, sociological, and theological context in which the Hebrew Scriptures came into existence, this course will provide the student with an understanding of the major emphases of the texts. In addition, the student will be introduced to themes of community life and praxis in the Hebrew Scriptures that find parallels in historical Indigenous worldviews of creation and Creator. The course will use community understandings, models and paradigms as a basis for comparison.

    New Testament Foundations
    A general introduction to the historical, sociological, and theological context in which the New Testament Scriptures came into existence, this course will familiarize students with the content and structure, distinctive theology, and introductory matters of the New Testament. in addition, the student will be introduced to the nature of the early Christian community, its transitions and changes from a strictly Hebraic construct as found within the Jewish community, and projections made for its future development.

    Community Models in Scripture
    This course is a theological and exegetical exploration of how the Scriptures speak about community, how they present and promote particular values and praxis of community, and what examples of community appear in both testaments. This understanding is critical to any program focused through the lens of a biblically-informed worldview. Finally, the course will seek to enable understanding of the nature of community in the early church and its implications, if any, on our thinking about the holistic development of community within the Kingdom of God.

    Theological Studies (9 credit hours)

    Theology I: Indigenous Perspectives
    The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the tasks and tools of Christian theology, including the development of a common theological vocabulary, so as to understand the nature of Christian faith and acquire the capacity to converse with others in shared terms. An introduction to Indigenous theological terminology will be introduced in the latter part of the course as a bridge to THEO 6503 Theology II: Theology and Ethic of the Land.

    Theology II: Theology and Ethic of the Land
    During this course students will be immersed in the wider creation in a retreat context with reading prior to and following the retreat. The experience of the beauty and hope of God as immanent within creation will be considered through Indigenous understandings of the land, and the relationship between science and faith. Students will engage current issues such as agriculture, conservation, land use and consumption of natural resources, gaining an understanding of the dual expressions of Indigenous and Hebrew constructs of shalom through which God blesses creation.

    Ethics in Intercultural Context (Directed Reading and Research)
    This course is an intercultural, contextual introduction to central issues in Christian ethics, with attention to the way in which moral reflection interacts with philosophy and culture. The course explores biblical-theological foundations for ethics, the role of scripture and Jesus’ example in ethical formulation, and deals with major contemporary topics including gender, sexuality, marriage, euthanasia, war, bioethics, wealth and poverty.

    Creation and Transformation (Directed Reading and Research)
    The centre of Christian theology is Jesus Christ in whom is united Creator and creation. This course will focus on the scriptural and ecclesiastical traditions concerning the person and work of Christ in transforming creation alongside Indigenous understandings of the Creator/creation relationship. This will provide the basis for a discussion about the implication of Christology for the transformation of the creation community through each lens. Thus, the course will seek to engage the ideas represented by the councils, and creeds of past theologians, and then move to examine the theological praxis that resulted in colonial and post-colonial contexts.

    Student Formation (12 credit hours)

    Indigenous Research and Writing
    This course covers all aspects of research and writing at an academic level. The student develops their voice as an academic writer by learning how to identify and use rhetorical strategies in writing. The course will also explore the specific needs or concerns of Indigenous writing and research methods including protocol. Other topics covered are: proper citation and bibliography formatting, grammar, crafting solid thesis statements, building a line of reasoning and other organizational strategies of formal research papers, finding and interacting with quality primary sources and how to synthesize and interact with secondary sources in an academic essay.

    Indigenous Symposium Seminars
    In order to foster deeper relationship, more effective academic engagement, and an overall greater involvement within the NAIITS community, students are required to attend two symposia as they progress through their studies. They will be required to participate in the concurrent seminar, and complete required assignments. Students will only register for the course at the time of their second Symposium following which, grades assigned to first and second Symposium work will be recorded.

    Indigenous Practice of Andragogy
    Andragogy is the study of methods, epistemologies, philosophies and contextual understandings of education that pertain to and enhance an adult-focused learning environment. This course will introduce the student to andragogical method as a theological framework and a contextual teaching practice, exploring the theological, philosophical, and pragmatic underpinnings of teaching. The course will also introduce the student to a variety of strategies to advance their development as a teacher.

    Indigenous Spirituality and Formation
    Indigenous understandings of the nature of the spiritual and of spirituality differ in many respects from those commonly held within Western traditions of Christian faith. The focus of the course, therefore, is to introduce the student to the ways in which Indigenous people participate as followers of Jesus in a manner that is authentic to their own cultural understandings, seeking to encourage spiritual growth and development from within such an Indigenous framework. This course will also discuss the appropriation of what has been perceived to be Indigenous spirituality by non-Indigenous people as well as a brief focus on what can be effectively learned from Indigenous understandings of the spiritual.

    Area of Specialization (24 credit hours)