Posted by: gcarkner | August 3, 2012

Faculty a Key Spiritual Influence

The Missing Link of Faculty Involvement in Campus Ministry

As we move towards a new academic year, it is important to step back and reflect more on the big picture of our vision and our context, and pray towards constructive, renewing, proactive developments on our campuses. Universities today need academic vision to stay relevant and on the innovative edge. But they also need fresh moral and spiritual vision, so they don’t become too narrow in their focus as they shape future leaders. The latter is where we find a clear deficit. Recently, I’ve been helped in this reflection by an article in the Vancouver Sun by our noted religion & ethics journalist Douglas Todd; he did his homework on this piece. He notes a major gap in the spiritual and meaning formation of students today–addressing the key life questions. It states clearly the problematic of ‘soul recovery’ that many UBC faculty and graduate students are attempting to address. My wife Ute and her partners in Ministry are also deeply concerned about these issues.

This is a link to a version of this articulate Vancouver Sun article (Can Higher Education Rediscover its ‘Soul’?) which appeared on June 9, 2012; it ran on Douglas Todd’s blog with the link below. It is provocative and ultimately thoughtful concerning student character shaping in the modern university. Worth some discussion over coffee I think. It fits well with the discourse articulated by philosopher Charles Taylor in his tome A Secular Age, and in the recent tome by Notre Dame European historian Brad Gregory called The Unintended Reformation; they each uniquely track how we arrived at our present secular university and Western culture over the past five hundred years. Here’s the blog link sent to me by Todd:

http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2012/06/10/higher-education-needs-to-explore-lifes-meanings/

There was also a major survey of students at UCLA on their spiritual development over a multi-year period (2003-2007). They clearly want more input from faculty on the important life questions.

http://spirituality.ucla.edu/docs/reports/Spiritual_Life_College_Students_Full_Report.pdf,

  Students show the greatest degree of growth in the five spiritual qualities if they are actively engaged in “inner work” through self-reflection, contemplation, or meditation. Students also show substantial increases in Spiritual Quest when their faculty encourage them to explore questions of meaning and purpose or otherwise show support for their spiritual development; that is very significant data. http://www.spirituality.ucla.edu./findings/

Gord Carkner

Reference: David Lyle Jeffrey’s talk at GFCF [Archives http://www.gfcf-ubc.ca]


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