Most of our oldest and most prestigious universities in America were established by Christians. Yale, Harvard, and Princeton were all begun as training and education institutions for ministers. Time has obscured their original intents and cultural shifts have tried to sweep under the rug their distinctly Christian heritage; however, many schools are realizing and acting now to reintroduce religion into their core curriculum. A recent news article details Harvard’s curriculum review and decisions to implement studies of faith, heritage, and history in a religious curriculum.
After working on a college campus for 8 years as a collegiate minister, I applaud this direction. How can our American colleges and universities dare to claim to train tomorrow’s leaders without exposing them and allowing them to study and dialogue about religion? At the very least, every college student should be required to study World Religions; American History, Heritage, and Faith; and related subjects that allow them to learn about the immense effects religion has played on our world and our country, including its establishment.
Rather, it seems that many universities swung toward the left in the 60s and 70s and began to present a religion-neutered curriculum. This does nothing to prepare adults for a world in which they live. Today, we understand the immense implications of religion when we commemorate 9/11 or as we consider forces at work in the Middle East. Students should be able to explain and dialogue intelligently about the foundations and teachings of all major religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.
I would encourage folks who have influence in academic circles and curriculum committees at local universities to urge and work toward a holistic curriculum which will enable tomorrow’s leaders to be fully informed, educated, and trained. I’m not asking our universities to become seminaries. I’m asking that they become relevant.
Christianity and Academic Soul-Searching