The Decline of the Secular University: Why the Academy Needs Religion

Hardcover | June 14, 2006

byC. John Sommerville

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The American university has embraced a thorough secularism that makes it increasingly marginal in a society that is characterized by high levels of religious belief. The very secularization that was supposed to be a liberating influence has resulted in the university's failure to provideleadership in political, cultural, social, and even scientific arenas. In The Decline of the Secular University, C. John Sommerville explores several different ways in which the secular university fails in its mission through its trivialization of religion. He notes how little attention is being given to defining the human, so crucial in all aspects of professionaleducation. He alerts us to problems associated with the prevailing secular distinction between "facts" and "values." He reviews how the elimination of religion hampers the university from understanding our post-Cold War world. Sommerville then shows how a greater awareness of the intellectualresources of religion might stimulate more forthright attention to important matters like our loss of a sense of history, how to problematize secularism, the issue of judging religions, the oddity of academic moralizing, and the strangeness of science at the frontiers. Finally, he invites the reader to imagine a university where religion is not ruled out but rather welcomed as a legitimate voice among others. Sommerville's bracing and provocative arguments are sure to provoke controversy and stimulate discussion both inside and outside the academy.

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The American university has embraced a thorough secularism that makes it increasingly marginal in a society that is characterized by high levels of religious belief. The very secularization that was supposed to be a liberating influence has resulted in the university's failure to provideleadership in political, cultural, social, and ev...

C. John Sommerville is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Florida. A Member of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton and Senior Fellow at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions, he also recently contributed to the Pew Younger Scholars' Mentoring Program. He is the author of several books, including Th...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:160 pages, 5.79 × 8.31 × 0.91 inPublished:June 14, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195306953

ISBN - 13:9780195306958

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"John Sommerville has written a valuable book that calls universities to task for their narrowness in addressing the big questions of what it means to be human, how to understand history, and what to think about difficult moral issues. He suggests as one possibility that academics reconsiderthe role of religion. This will strike many as a novel idea. They are the ones who especially need to read this book."--Robert Wuthnow, author of American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short