Thursday, June 29, 2023

UM & Global 10th Anniversary Stats: Contributors

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Mission Theologian at the General Board of Global Ministries. The opinions and analysis expressed here are Dr. Scott's own and do not reflect in any way the official position of Global Ministries.

This blog is sponsored by the Association of Methodist Professors of Mission (formerly United Methodist Professors of Mission). At the AMPM meeting two weeks ago, I (David) offered an update on the blog, as I usually do at those meetings.

This update, however, was a special one, as it is now just over 10 years since the blog launched. Therefore, I took the opportunity to compile some special statistics to share with the AMPM, which I also want to share with you, the readers of this blog. I will share statistics and reflections about contributors in this piece and additional statistics in a future piece.


Since its start on March 3, 2013, UM & Global has functioned on a three-stranded model of content contribution. It features pieces written by David W. Scott as blogmaster, pieces written by other contributors (AMPM members and beyond), and "Recommended Reading" (or similar) pieces with links and short rationales for reading whatever is linked to. You can see how those three strands of content have varied over the years here:

From all these sources, UM & Global has published 1217 articles so far from 116 authors from 24 countries!

Just over half of authors have come from the United States (reflecting the blog's home within a US academic group), with several authors also coming from Germany, Argentina, the Philippines, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and the DRC.

Just over half of the authors were white, either white Americans or white Europeans. About 1/6 were Asian or Asian-American, 1/6 were Black African or African-American, and 1/8 were Latin American or US Hispanic. These are, of course, overly broad categories. Moreover, total authorship does not reflect the full diversity of the global church. It is, however, significantly more diverse than its sponsoring body.

2/3rds of contributors have been men, with the remaining 1/3 women. Again, this is less than the parity to which the church and academy should strive, but significantly more gender balanced than the AMPM.

Since not all contributors have written the same number of blogs, with white, American, men contributing more pieces per author, and since I as a white, American, man write the largest number of pieces, the content on this site is less well-balanced than the contributor pool as a whole.

Again, high quality theological reflection depends on contributions from a multitude of perspectives, and the content on UM & Global has not given space, and certainly not equal space, to all possible perspectives, and this representation (or lack thereof) matters.

There are many ways to norm what the distribution of content on the blog should be. Is the comparison point global church membership? US professors in general? US missiology professors in particular? Relative to global church membership, women are underrepresented, Europeans are overrepresented, and Africans are underrepresented. Relative to US professors as a whole, women are underrepresented but racial/ethnic minorities are a larger percentage of blog authors than US professors. I am not familiar with data on the composition of missiologists, but based on my personal sense of the American Society of Missiology, relative to that group, UM & Global authors have been at least equally female and more likely to be racial and ethnic minorities in the United States or to come from outside the United States.

If there's a consolation for me as the editor in these numbers, it's that the blog has gotten better and more representative over its run. When I last compiled such number in fall 2014, the blog contributors were 3/4 men, 71% American, and 61% white. The increase in contributors who are women, not from the United States, and people of color has been the result of conscious and often extensive effort to invite contributions from these groups.

That's the takeaway I'd like to end with. It's easy to get white American men to write stuff about the church. They do it all the time. It takes more work to identify and cultivate alternative voices. But this is critical work that all in church leadership need to be engaged in.

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