Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Column addresses growing presence of evangelicals in higher ed

This column in the Chronicle of Higher Education looks at a trend of increasing evangelical enrollment in America's top universities (a 133 % increase from 1976 to 2004) as well as in scholarly work.

The author states "evangelicals are the most discussed but least understood group in American society," and credits changing demographics both for evangelicals and for college students as well as a concerted effort by evangelical groups to become more influential and, in some ways, relevant to the academic arena. He notes that "Unlike fundamentalists who retreat from pluralistic environments, evangelicals relish the chance to engage people who hold different beliefs. This could present an opportunity for deeper understanding on our campuses, but it will happen only if we bring evangelicals into our classroom discussions. Just as the debate surrounding intelligent design has forced many biologists to engage religious topics in the classroom, so will rising religious pluralism. As we make greater progress in medicine and genomics, we should expect the number of moral issues surrounding those developments to multiply. That, joined with the rising number of evangelical students on our campuses, will demand of us at least a basic understanding of what this religious community believes."

In AEJ, this is both a recognition of the efforts of the founders of RMIG and those of the scholars they have mentored, and a challenge for the future, as members must continue to redefine their relevance to the worlds of research and teaching.

No comments: