Wielding scholarship, improving life

Dr. Kenneth L. Pike, namesake of the Pike Center
“What exactly is scholarship? One might start by explaining the difference between a student and a scholar. A student is one whose task is to study a body of knowledge to learn what is  already known. By contrast, a scholar is one who extends the boundaries of knowledge, first by investigating something that is not yet known and then by sharing the newfound knowledge through some means of publication.” -- Dr. Gary Simons, Pike Center director

(November 2017) SIL International is pleased to announce the launch of Pike Center for Integrative Scholarship. This initiative will build capacity for language development by developing scholars and growing the needed bodies of knowledge to see language used as the instrument for human flourishing we believe God intends it to be.

Pike Center programs will build capacity for language development through:

  • Scholar development: helping rising scholars succeed in furthering language development through mentorship by established scholars who are Pike Center Fellows.
  • Sponsored research: funding Pike Center scholars’ research and publication activities.
  • Agile publishing: providing a platform for publishing and refining scholars’ new contributions.
  • Thought leadership: a symposium series to advance knowledge in key problem areas and set the agenda for further research.


Addressing critical needs: Sixty percent of the world’s population speak one of 103 mother tongues that is also an official language in their country. For speakers of these languages, resources and opportunities abound.

Meanwhile, many speakers of the nearly 7000 lesser-known languages remain marginalized and unable to reach their full potential. They must use a language other than their mother tongue to learn new life skills, develop literacy, and even grow in faith. This pressure to shift to another language threatens identity, culture and community. These and other language-related issues stand in the way of individuals’ and communities’ efforts to improve their lives.

“Integration with God and man demands service to others.... We must try to improve the circumstances of our neighbors—at our expense if necessary—rather than try to obtain status at the cost of their happiness.” -- Ken Pike


SIL and Scholarship: Scholarship has been core to the strategy and contribution of SIL since its inception. Over eighty years ago, William Cameron Townsend, SIL’s founder, set research as a cornerstone of SIL’s strategy. This strategy found its true champion in Kenneth L. Pike, the first of Townsend’s recruits who took up the challenge to complete doctoral studies. Since then, more than 400 SIL personnel have followed Pike’s example. Pike Center builds on this legacy of people who pursued scholarship as a way to provide development and social justice to groups often marginalized simply because of the languages they speak.

Stay informed on activities of Pike Center:   to announcements.

Help propel language development: to Pike Center.

A Threefold Purpose: Rediscovering the Heart of SIL

Learn more about SIL’s historic commitment to scholarship in A Threefold Purpose: Rediscovering the Heart of SIL. Noted historian Mark Noll, in the book’s foreword, states: “The story of how SIL has sustained a commitment to its three founding goals deserves wide attention because of the encouragement it can provide others who believe that Christian faith requires intellectual and cultural, as well as religious, commitment.”

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