Graduate Theological Union

Understanding Religion's Growing Resurgence in Higher Education

A recent article in Trusteeship (January/February 2013), the publication of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, outlined the return of religion and religious studies to many a higher education institution. The abstract for the article is below.

After decades of largely ignoring the subject, colleges and universities across the country are re-engaging religion as an educational concern, and this re-engagement is occurring at public universities and private non-religious colleges as well as many religiously affiliated institutions of higher learning.

A new vocabulary for talking about religion divides the subject into three distinct categories: historic or traditional religion; personal religion, which focuses on ideas and ideals that provide meaning, purpose, grounding, hope, and a sense of wholeness to persons as individuals; and public religion, or what a society as a whole deems to be true, good, right, or “sacred.”

It is not the job of colleges and universities to address all the religious questions that students might ask, but rather to help prepare students to live in a world where religion is a complex and unavoidable component of social, personal, and corporate life.

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