Community, Vocation, Virtue, and Classic Education as Benefits of Religious Higher Education

Dr. Thomas Albert Howard of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass recently wrote a article for Inside Higher Ed entitled "The Promise of Religious Colleges." Howard argues that the current challenges facing higher education actually offer religious institutions of higher education "a propitious opportunity."

The positives as he states them are, first, that religious institutions are still about the personal, about the interaction between faculty and students not just in the classroom but also, and almost more importantly, outside the classroom. The discussion of things that matter and the mentoring that occurs at these institutions is something that cannot be offered in the same way or at all at larger universities.

Second, codes of conduct still exist are religious institutions and need not seem antiquated.

Third, these universities and colleges focus on vocation and calling and not career. The religious institutions challenge students to shape their lives and futures around virtues like justice and charity and not vices, greed, narcissism, and pride.

Fourth, and finally, religious institutions offer hope in the area of the liberal arts, or the classic education of the arts, humanities, and sciences. The liberal arts hold the ideal that learning is important for its own sake and not only because you can get something out of it. It is about the discussion of ideas, revisiting the great questions, and reading and interacting with the important minds of humanity.

Religious institutions must continue to strive for these ideals and hold this promise dear. Utilitarian forces seem to grow stronger everyday.

(Relatedly, see some comments on Perry Glanzer's from the March 2012 Christianity Today on similar ideas and themes.)

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