In the midst of it all there is much to celebrate, yet also a great deal to consider. While some institutions have responded accordingly to the changing dynamics of religion, others are failing to cultivate a suitable learning climate, and in doing so repeatedly animate the destructive conflicts that are too often fueled by religious illiteracy and dogmatic isolation.
There is no shortage of concerning examples, from the personal struggles of disillusionment, disorder, and despair, to the public agony of polarizing debate, to frustration surrounding ideological relativism and extremism, not to mention the various and volatile ways in which religious ignorance poisons our public discourse. Furthermore, the current mass diversification of spiritual identity is unprecedented, even at religiously affiliated schools, yet far too many have fallen short in promoting a healthy culture of pluralism. In total, the importance of engaging the escalating impact of religion on higher education has increased considerably, and the implications can no longer be denied or avoided.
The necessity to promote religious literacy and interfaith leadership is increasingly inescapable. In their text, No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education , Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen and Douglas Jacobsen analyze their interactions with hundreds of faculty members, student life educators, administrators of various degrees of leadership, and students from institutions that cover the kaleidoscope of North American colleges and universities.
In doing so, the Jacobsens illustrate how religion is powerfully and gainfully entangled with the overall aims of higher education, especially in the twenty-first century global community. As a result, their study persuasively documents how, after decades of religious privatization and marginalization, colleges and universities are now seeing the need to interact more fully with matters of traditional, personal, and public religion. In light of the quickly changing context of North America and beyond, such a rebirth is both positive and necessary.
The revival of religion in higher education should not come as a surprise. From the outburst of religious diversity, to the general embrace of multicultural competency and holistic wellbeing, as well as the prominence of local and global religious conflict, such dynamics — in arrangement with many others — has made the proactive interaction with religious matters an educational requirement for those seeking to best equip global citizens.
As the Jacobsens articulate:. In light of such findings, one can argue that not only is religion increasingly observable, but for several convincing reasons, providing intentional opportunities to engage with religion on college campuses can no longer be considered optional.
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While religious engagement is now awakening across the country, as is the case with any revival, it appears quite different than what may have been observed before. The very terminology of interfaith leadership is relatively novel. While some may see these fluctuations as too costly and seek to disregard it all together, in ways similar to the focus on other forms of diversity, a growing mixture of religious practices provide institutions with a profound opportunity to realign their methods with their longstanding values and mission. In short, to learn about religion, and to genuinely engage with the practice of religion, is critically important to build upon North American higher education's longstanding commitment to personal, social, and civic learning.
While such a shift surrounding religion and higher education present several challenges, many institutions — regardless of history or affiliation — are well equipped to take on this increasingly important mandate. Furthermore, students from coast to coast have started denominational worship communities as well as interfaith clubs and councils, and faculty members design courses and research that concentrates on various forms of religious identity and interaction.
There are countless positive examples. However, a new opportunity has emerged, thus requiring a more all-encompassing commitment to develop in students both their roots an understanding of their religious identity and knowledge of practice and reach an orientation to pluralism and capacity for inclusion , as well as institutional breadth significant proportions of campus having a minimum degree of exposure and depth select assemblies receiving a significant level of guided exploration. Dwight Furrow. What I Believe. Tariq Ramadan. The Post-Secular in Question.
David Kyuman Kim. Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes. Nancy Tatom Ammerman. Breaking Bread. Religion on the Edge. Courtney Bender.
When Colorblindness Isn't the Answer. Anthony B. Sociology of the Sacred. Philip A Mellor. Ain't I a Womanist, Too? Monica A. The Sacred Project of American Sociology. Christian Smith. God And Mammon In America. Robert Wuthnow. Michael S. The Emperor Has No Clothes.
Tema Okun. Choosing Our Religion.
No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education – The Immanent Frame
Elizabeth Drescher. The Transformative Power of Faith. Erin Dufault-Hunter. Religion in Sociological Perspective. Keith A. Taking Religion Seriously Across the Curriculum. Warren A. Does God Make a Difference? Warren Nord. After the Baby Boomers. The Oxford Handbook of Secularism. Phil Zuckerman. Religion and American Education.
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The Humanist Society. Joseph Sassoon. Andrew Singleton. Teaching Civic Engagement. Forrest Clingerman. Thought Paralysis. Farhad Dalal. Social Selves and Political Reforms. Melissa Snarr.
Transforming the Faiths of Our Fathers. Ann Braude. Queering Religion, Religious Queers. Yvette Taylor. Mediating Faiths. Guy Redden. Simeon Singer Translator.
Book Review: No Longer Invisible
Those Who Forget the Past. Ron Rosenbaum. Common Misreads Of Reality. Damion Boyd. America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity. God vs. Mano Singham. Expressing Post-Secular Citizenship. Zahraa McDonald. Cultures and Societies in a Changing World. Wendy Griswold. No Longer Invisible documents how, after decades when religion was marginalized, colleges and universities are re-engaging matters of faith-an educational development that is both positive and necessary. Using the categories of historic religion, public religion, and personal religion, No Longer Invisible offers a new framework for understanding this emerging religious terrain, a framework that can help colleges and universities-and the students who attend them-interact with religion more effectively.
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