Saturday 10 August 2019

Word and World 7 (July 2019)

‘What is a university for?’ is the theme of the latest issue of Word and World, published by IFES. The issue contains the below pieces, and is available as a pdf here.

Esther Phua
We Become Dreamers: Snapshots from the Life of a University Student
Esther Phua, a recent philosophy graduate from Singapore, offers snapshots from life as a university student. She tells about times to ask questions, to discover, to make friends, to grow up, to relate to family, and to grow in faith. She also tells about times to deal with shame, suicide, and difficult family relationships. Recognizing the fears that students face, she says that universities are places to try out ideas about changing the world, places to dream, thanks to the Word that became flesh.

Brian A. Williams
To Wonder, Learn, and Love: Christian Humanism in the Modern University
Brian A. Williams, theologian and dean of an honours college in the United States, looks to the tradition of Christian humanism to frame what universities are for, a tradition that has taught him to value every art and science as a gift from God made available to students to develop their full humanity. He writes that this kind of education starts with wonder and amazement. It goes on to learn, not using of knowledge for selfish aims but learning as a grateful and humble response to the gift of knowledge. Such learning equips university members to love their near and distant neighbours. Knowing ultimately leads us to praise God, Williams writes.

Santa J. Ono
The Humility of What We Do Not Know: My Story of Serving as a President and a Scientist in a Secular University
Santa J. Ono, president of a university in Canada and a medical scientist, thinks that the best universities are places where people from different backgrounds come together for open dialogue about questions, exploring mysteries, developing new ideas, and shaping people who can create a better world. He relates his story of coming to Christian faith as a student, a faith that he says disposes him to serve people of any or no faith as a leader of an educational institution.

Jeremiah Amai Veino Duomai
Universities as Watchdogs: Democracy and Critiquing the Powers That Be
Jeremiah Amai Veino Duomai, a philosopher from India, responds to the shrinking space allowed in Indian universities for evaluating and criticizing government policies. He argues that free thought in universities is not only important for the health of a democracy. It is also an important way to speak out against what the Scriptures call “the powers that be,” fighting a temptation to worship political leaders or deify nations.

Ross H. McKenzie
Towards a Christian Vision for the Modern Secular University: A Theological Contribution to Competing Visions of the University
Ross H. McKenzie, a physicist from Australia, says that in a time of crisis about the purpose of universities, Christian theology has a contribution to make. The approach of turning universities into businesses and letting them be guided by free market forces predominates today, he says. And while some Christians hold to a vision for educational institutions as sectarian, he advances a Christian theological vision for the modern secular and multicultural university. McKenzie believes that the categories of creation, fall, redemption, and renewal can both explain and shape what counts as good activity in the university.

No comments: