Early universities within the United States were largely established to advance the ideals of liberal education within a religious moral framework. In the last century, however, the academy has become widely ambivalent about the place of "God" in the broader discourse of a university. This quarter's lecture series will ask why, as we consider the role of religion within higher education in the United States.
April 22, 2014 | 4 – 5:30 p.m.
St. Clare Room, Library and Learning Commons | MAP
Religion was once at the center of American higher education. But educational reforms instituted over a century ago pushed it to the margins. Professor Reuben will consider these reforms and the dilemmas they pose for religious engagement in the university.
Professors Jacobsen and Hustedt Jacobsen will then consider how in the early twenty-first century, universities are rediscovering the importance of religion in societies and in the lives of individuals. This is not a matter of turning back the clock. Rather than undermining academic rigor, as some educators had feared, this new engagement with pluriform religion is helping to deepen learning and to better prepare students for life in a globally interconnected world. Religion in the university today is different from the past, including many nontraditional forms of spirituality as well as various traditional “organized” religions.
Julie Reuben is a historian interested in the intersection between American thought and culture and educational institutions and practice. She is the author of Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality as well as a number of articles related to campus activism in the 1960s and the history of civics in public schools. She is currently researching social science instruction in post-World War II America. She is the Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Douglas “Jake” Jacobsen (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Distinguished Professor of Church History and Theology at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA. With wide-ranging interests encompassing American and global religiosity, Jake is the award-winning author of Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement (University of Indiana Press, 2003) and of The World’s Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There (Wiley/Blackwell, 2011).
Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen (Ed.D., Temple University) is Director of Faculty Development and Professor of Psychology at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA. A former public school counselor, Rhonda has been the recipient of both national and campus teaching awards and has received several grants from the John Templeton Foundation to support her efforts to bring science and religion into dialogue in the classroom.
Together Jake and Rhonda co-direct the Religion in the Academy Project, a major research initiative examining the roles of religion in higher learning. They have collaborated on three books, all of them published by Oxford University Press: Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (2004), The American University in a Postsecular Age (2008), winner of the Lilly Fellows Book Award, and No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (2012).