This article is from the issue: Volume 3, Issue 1: Transformational Development Part 2

A Note from the Editor: Transformational Development Part 2

Feb 28, 2014

Our current issue continues the theme of “transformational development” — a concept that evolved from the earlier notion of holistic development or cross-cultural ministry in the 1970s, and has been widely used among Christian (development) circles, though it often encompasses somewhat nuanced field of change. We seek to provide a platform for engaged review and discussion based on studies and reflections from the global community, to inform one other, and to broaden our understanding, through which, hopefully, a shared conceptual framework may eventually surface. A heated dialogue is already underway in our blog revolving around “What Is Transformational Development?” Many readers may be aware of Bryant Myers’ book, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, which provides insightful perspectives that help illuminate the concept. He sets some signposts for transformational development as “seeking positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially, psychologically and spiritually” (2011, 3), a journey with God involving all “those who are on it” (16). He articulates the two goals of transformational development as “changed people and just and peaceful relationships” (17), and identifies, as essential in transformational development, the rediscovery of “human dignity and identity” and right relationship with God, self, community, those who are “other,” and the creation (180).

On WCIU’s website we recognize that “the roots of human problems lie deep within socio-cultural, socio-economic and political systems, and science and technology systems.” To address these root problems effectively, one needs to “understand these systems, to identify the roots of pervasive problems associated with human need (economic, political, cultural, mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual).” We also affirm development as a dynamic process of change and growth, and is most transformative when generated from within a socio-cultural system. “Development that aims at transforming societies provides not only options and resources for physical and social betterment, but also hope and answers for spiritual questions and needs. Only through such development practices can lasting change be achieved.” The Hebrew concept of Shalom, right relationship with God, with other humans, and with God’s creation, is foundational to transformational development as we explore the various aspects of it surfacing in local contexts across the globe.

This topic has obviously generated a lot of interests from scholars and practitioners. I would like to thank all the authors whose works have (or have not) been selected for publication. Because of the amount of quality submissions for this issue we have received, we have decided to devote two issues, the current Winter 2014 Issue, and the previous Fall 2013 Issue, to the same topic of transformational development. For this issue, Transformational Development, Part 2, we are publishing several articles on this topic. I invite you to join the dialogue, discussion, and debate through commenting on the articles and blog postings, and sharing insights to your own social networks.

Read the full issue: Volume 3, Issue 1: Transformational Development Part 2

Yalin Xin, Ph.D

Yalin Xin is the associate professor of intercultural studies at William Carey International University. He was formerly a research fellow at the Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements and Senior Editor for the William Carey International Development Journal. His research interest includes Christian renewal and revitalization movements and Christianity in China.