Why? Three professors--Perry Glanzer, Professor of Educational Foundations and Nathan Alleman, Associate Professor of Higher Education studies of Baylor University along with Todd Ream, Professor of Higher Education at Taylor University and Research Fellow at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion--argue that much of U.S. higher education today "has no unifying soul or mission." As bad as that is, the post-Christian culture that has spawned this failure has corrupted those institutions of higher education originally founded to promote faith and reason.
- what God did in and from the beginning by creating students in His divine image and likeness; and,
- how that theological vision challenges students to grow in virtue, grace, and wisdom before God and humanity.
The trio's prescription: Administrators and faculty of those latter institutions must reject this Zeitgeist by not allowing fear to stifle them from speaking and reasoning philosophically and theologically.
Without pointing the finger of blame at those who should have been more forcible in challenging administrators and other faculty to speak and reason philosophically and theologically--the Theology faculty--Glanzer, Alleman, and Ream offer some practical suggestions for theologians to serve the entire collegiate community to reject the prevailing Zeitgeist.
How so? Rather than seeking the accolades of their disciplinary peers who are of, in, and live for this world and reduce their important vocation to a profession, Theology faculty must also serve their colleagues in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and professional studies to engender in their students a dialogue between philosophy and theology and the other disciplines--thus striking a healthy balance between their vocation and profession, with the former providing the context for the latter. In this way, Theology would function as the thread uniting the tapestry of the curriculum as well as inform and form people who are in and of this world but will strive to live for God's kingdom.
This change of culture presents no small challenge.
For 100+ years, administrators and faculty have worked mightily to exclude philosophical and theological questions from the discourse of U.S. higher education. But, Glanzer, Alleman, and Ream assert, administrators and faculty can no longer evade responding to those questions. Why? The issues implicit in those questions haven't disappeared from human experience. In any generation and especially so in this generation where students are informed and formed by a post-Christian secular culture, they need to learn how to respond to those important questions, with those responses informed by both philosophy and theology.
Traditionally, this curriculum was called a "liberal" education whose aim was the unfettered pursuit of truth wherever the facts may lead. Its curriculum taught students to think philosophically and theologically as well as in the methods of the other academic disciplines. The goal? To purify and correct thought so as to avoid excesses that could otherwise become ideologies. In short, to learn to think critically for oneself during the course of one's life.
In The Motley Monk's estimation, that's the important "take away" from this volume. When administrators and faculty of an institution of higher education, in general, and one having a religious identity at its core, in specific, fail to include philosophy and theology across the curriculum, the purpose for higher education has been corrupted. In theological terms, that's called a "sin" and, if that corruption destroys an institution's purpose, that's called a "mortal sin."
Ever wonder why those administrators and faculty don't want to think in those terms?
Glanzer, Alleman, and Ream aren't pessimistic. They believe love for God as well as faith and hope in God offer a wellspring of optimism. Renewing the vocation and commitment to liberal education--faith and reason in dialogue, as Blessed John Newman argued in The Idea of a University--will unleash God's creative and redemptive work anew in U.S. higher education.
Let the discussion begin...
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