Six months ago, before the first meeting of our General Education Summit Team, I posted these hopes for the process and outcomes:
- We should start from a positive vision of Christian liberal education can be.
I think that we should root our revision in the kind of community we claim to be, with confidence that this will drive an education that is both intrinsically and instrumentally valuable. (That is as opposed to a sort of insecurity that looks first for what students might need, worries that we don’t provide that, and then seeks to alter our identity in subtle ways in order to make sure those things happen.) Given that… a vision of Christian liberal education ought to drive our curriculum and shape the overall college experience.
- We should emphasize integration of faith and learning and specifically the development and articulation of informed and committed Christian perspectives on enduring questions, contemporary issues, disciplinary problems, and vocational challenges.
Intentional, serious, rigorous, sophisticated, systematic, subtle, and nuanced “integration of faith and learning” should be our goal. Note that this is articulated in aspirational terms. That’s because in most cases, it’s not something we achieve, but something we work toward little by little, getting better at it all the time (even if sometimes in a “two steps forward, one step back fashion”). Working toward it should be the signature of our community.
But what is integration of faith and learning? I take it that integration of faith and learning is developing and articulating an informed (i.e., rigorous, sophisticated, well resourced, learned) and committed (i.e., in our own voices, not purely a descriptive account) Christian perspective on our studies by putting the Christian tradition into conversation with enduring questions, contemporary issues, disciplinary problems… and vocational challenges.
Today, after years of hard work by many faculty, administrators, and staff, months of focused effort by a small team, and plenty of input by colleagues and students from across the college, we passed a new program that emphasizes liberal education and integration of faith and learning. I’m excited to see how the program shapes our next generation of students.