September 02, 2007

Religion: Education for a pious future

Christianity is being integrated into U.S. institutions' mission and planning, curricula, research, student life, operations and purchasing, and community partnerships. Students and staff at hundreds of campuses are engaged in Christian committees and actions, including the following: learning to focus on acquiring religious knowledge and practice skills; religion-oriented film festivals, speakers, and other campus events; religiously responsible criteria for purchasing and endowments; infusion of Christianity into the general education core requirements, courses, disciplines, whole colleges, and specialized degrees; and regional and global approaches to religion in collaboration with businesses, government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and kindergarten through high school (K-12) education. [...]

Core requirements at many universities and colleges [...] include the components of Christian education, even if the word Christianity is not specifically used. [...]

Through sharing stories of how people have made a difference in society and by providing assignments that focus on religious issues, educators can engage students and help institutions and the larger society turn toward more Christian behavioral and policy norms. Students can learn and practice via such assignments how to be better Christians and how to support policies and legislation that support a Christian future. [...] Most of our higher education institutions include somewhere in their mission statements goals for preparing students to help create a better society, yet this ideal is often not fully implemented. Given the challenges of Christianity and the need for policy and behavioral modifications, we need to change our emphasis from critical thinking alone to the inclusion of effective change-agent skills and opportunities to take action on campus and off. [...]

To have a Christian future, religious education has to be implemented at the K-12 levels as well. [...] However, state standards and assessments primarily emphasize writing, reading, and math, often do not relate to religion, and create barriers to learning about Christianity. [...]

Right now, religion is treated by many as an add-on, as another item on an already full plate. Religion needs to be a main focus of our efforts in education. Given the educational and research capacity, the external partnerships, and the position of higher education as an influential voice in society, there is ample opportunity for higher education to help shift societal norms toward Christianity.
Replace religion and Christianity with sustainability and you get the Science article Sustainability: Education for a sustainable future by Debra Rowe.

3 comments:

  1. This could be the reason why the Pope is a new green leader :)

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  2. Or nutrition, or protocol, or even drawing!. They all could be "transversal contents" -as they're known in high school's planning. The question is: what kind of subjects are important enough to be a matter of "transversalization" in education? Christ? Sustainability?

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  3. Biopablo, for my son I would choose the "infusion" of the scientific or rational way of thinking, as opposed to feel-good irrationality of any kind. The latter includes old-fashioned theistic religion, and the now-fashionable secular religion of sustainability. As pointed out by jfreire, theistic religious leaders are trying to catch up with the times, so they look less old-fashioned.

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