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Christian Union: The Magazine
November 3, 2021

Foulke ’20 Was Founding Member of CU Caritas

By Anne Kerhoulas, Staff Writer

Arthur Brooks argues that finding happiness in a job comes from two factors: a sense of accomplishment and professional efficacy as well as believing that your work is serving others and making a difference in the world. Recent Stanford grad and CU Caritas alumni Ryan Foulke has found both in his work for BibleProject, a non-profit organization that creates free Bible resources to “help make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere.”

Foulke, a 2020 science technology and society major, works for the Portland, Oregon-based organization as a design researcher to better understand what BibleProject users are looking for in their products. Offering a range of resources from short, animated videos that explain a book of the Bible or a theological concept to a podcast, blog, and Bible study, BibleProject has gained popularity and momentum in the past seven years for making biblical and theological content that is easy to understand and engaging.

1 bible projectImage from BibleProject website

When Foulke was finishing his undergraduate degree, he began an internship with Dropbox that led to a full-time job upon graduation. Foulke also participated in what Stanford calls a “co-term,” a master’s program that is bundled in with one’s undergraduate degree. He completed a fifth year at Stanford to gain his master’s in computer science. Though Foulke enjoyed his role at Dropbox, he felt the tension of doing work that he was good at and he enjoyed but had little meaning for his life—he longed for that equation that Brooks says human workers need for job satisfaction. 

So he reached out to BibleProject on a whim, offering his skillset as a free service if they wanted a volunteer. BibleProject had long been a compelling, helpful, and encouraging resource for Foulke, who had watched their videos and listened to their podcasts as a student. He was surprised with their response.

1 ryan foulkeRyan Foulke (via LinkedIn)“I reached out on their website because I noticed that they are a lot like a tech company. If you watch their videos you can tell they have a great product. I offered to do volunteer research for them and after that, they got back and wanted to start a user research team, asking, Would you want to join us?” says Foulke. “I wanted to do something more aligned with my faith and what I was passionate about since there’s not a huge overlap of Christian and tech companies.” 

As a science technology and society major, Foulke spent his years in college sifting through how to approach the tech world with a Christian perspective. 

“It was a pretty interdisciplinary major, an overlap of STEM with humanities. For me, I focused on the intersection of computer science and ethics and that led to taking more design classes towards the end of my college career,” says Foulke. 

“There were definitely a lot of things that were really frustrating for me as I studied. I realized there were a lot of clearly unethical things that larger tech companies were doing. It was a huge area of conversation in my courses. But what frustrated me most was that we talked about it in my classes but never focused on what to do about it,” recalls Foulke. “That’s why I liked the field of design; that was the field that actually designed the product to be good or unethical. It’s also why I like the user research field in design because the companies that have a good understanding of the needs of the people they are building things for are the companies that have the best chance of becoming unethical.”

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As a member of the founding class of CU Caritas, Foulke says that participating in Christian Union created a baseline for thinking about faith and work and how to navigate the workplace as a Christian. He also gained leadership experience as he served in a number of capacities in the ministry as it was being formed and benefited greatly from one-on-one discipleship from ministry faculty Justin Woyak and former ministry director Garrett Brown.

“Having that Christian community in college was really important for me. I loved how CU offered mentorship from Justin and Garrett; I don’t know if I would have gotten that from other Christian organizations,” he said. “I had one on ones with Justin at least once a week, so that was super impactful for me.” 

In light of his desire to integrate his faith and work, working for a Chrsitian non-profit organization like BibleProject has proved to be encouraging both in the ethical sphere but also personally for Foulke. He recalls how, in other companies he worked for, the information he gathered as a design researcher was often ignored as the company opted for adjusting their products to make more money. At BibleProject, a non-profit, when he finds information that will better the user experience, the organization puts it to use because they want their product to best serve its users. 

Foulke is currently working on a large study to gain a deeper understanding of who exactly is using BibleProject resources and where they are in their faith journey. He is excited to see how the findings will lead to even better product creation that will directly target users, creating resources that fit their needs, further their faith, and advance the Kingdom of God. 

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