Experts on "Intercultural Studies"

Murray S. Decker

  • Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies

Murray Decker has taught at Biola University since 1993, teaching courses such as Interpersonal and Intercultural Adjustment, Foundations of Global Studies, Short-term Mission Leadership, Experiential Learning Theory, Intercultural Internship, Cross-cultural Issues in Spiritual Formation and Gospel and Culture. His field experience includes serving in Cameroon, West Africa as a missionary, as well as numerous trips to serve in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Turkey. He serves as a missions consultant to churches and has spoken at numerous missions conferences at churches, schools and seminaries. Decker's research interests include sojourner adjustment (the process of cross-cultural adaptation and adjustment to living in new environments), missions mobilization, spiritual formation and experiential learning. Murray's passion over the years has been to mentor students and journey with them in life as they prepare to impact the world for Jesus. Murray is married to DeAnn, and has two children. They make their home in La Mirada.

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Octavio Javier Esqueda

  • Professor of Educational Leadership

Octavio Javier Esqueda is a professor of Christian higher education in the doctoral programs in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. He was born and raised in Guadalajara, México, where he graduated with honors with a Licenciatura in Latin American Literature from the University of Guadalajara as well as two additional diplomas, one on religion and society and the second on journalism. He graduated with honors from Dallas Theological Seminary with an M.A. in Christian Education and completed his Ph.D. in Higher Education at the University of North Texas. Before coming to Biola University in 2011, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas for over seven years. He and his wife, Angélica, have two children Darío and Salma. Esqueda has several publications on theological education, Christian higher education and literature. Teaching is his passion and has had the opportunity to teach in several countries on different academic levels. He is an avid soccer fan.

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Douglas Hayward

  • Professor Emeritus of Intercultural Studies

Dr. Hayward was a missionary for 20 years among the highlands Dani people in Papua, Indonesia. His ministries include church planting, community development coordinator, leadership training and staff development, and supervision. He has written three books on the Dani people, plus numerous journal articles, encyclopedia entries, and chapters in books on missiological topics. He teaches classes in anthropology, folk religion, contextualization, ethics, new religious movements, and spiritual warfare. His outstanding contributions as a teacher have been acknowledged by awards from Who's Who Among America's teachers, the Marquis Who's Who in the World, and Who's Who in American Education.

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Katherine Purgason

  • Chair, Department of Applied Linguistics & TESOL
  • Program Director, Applied Linguistics & TESOL
  • Professor of TESOL

Kitty Purgason brings to her classes in TESOL methodology, curriculum, materials and intercultural communication her years of experience living, studying, serving and teaching in India, Russia, Korea, China, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Mauritania, Indonesia, Kuwait, Oman, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Spain. She has received three Fulbright fellowships and the Biola Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. She has been a U.S. State Department English Language Specialist. Her professional interests include methodology in local context and professional ethics.

Purgason has presented on methodology and materials-related topics at more than 30 local, state and national TESOL conferences, and has spoken about TESOL at Urbana and other similar conferences. She is the author of Professional Guidelines for Christian English Teachers (2016), "Planning Lessons and Units" in Celce-Murcia, Brinton, & Snow (2013), "Classroom Guidelines for Teachers with Convictions" in Wong and Canagarajah (2009), and English Language Teaching in Theological Contexts (2010).


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Judith Mendelsohn Rood

  • Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies

Judith Mendelsohn Rood received her Ph.D. in Modern Middle Eastern History from the University of Chicago and her M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. She earned her B.A. at New College, an experimental liberal arts college modeled on the Oxford University curriculum, and did undergraduate and graduate work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Rood was the first woman ever permitted to undertake research in the Islamic Archives in Jerusalem, and was the first American since 1967 to do so. Her specialization is the Muslim community in Jerusalem during the Ottoman period. She is especially interested in the relations of Muslims, Christians and Jews from an historical perspective. Currently she is working on writing a history of world civilizations. Rood loves the arts, hiking, swimming and good conversation.

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Richard L. Starcher

  • Professor of Intercultural Education & Missiology
  • Program Director, Doctor of Intercultural Studies

Richard Starcher served as a pastor in rural Nebraska and as a missionary in Africa for 20 years. He taught at the Goyongo Bible Institute in Zaire, at the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology in the Central African Republic and at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology in Kenya where he also served as Dean of Extension Studies. He continues to teach and serve as an educational consultant in Africa. He is particularly interested in research methods and in exploring models for equipping leaders for the majority world Church. He also edits Missiology: An International Review, the official journal of the American Society of Missiology.

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