Oct 27, 2016

Campus

Episode 123: How Did We Get Here?

The Spiritual History of American Universities


Professor George Marsden is currently a professor of history emeritus at the University of Notre Dame.  George is the author of several books including The Soul of the American University.  Today Professor Marsden joins us to talk about the christian history of American universities and why it matters.

Professor George Marsden // Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame // marsden.1@nd.edu

Notable Points:

  • Many modern universities have their roots in evangelical and protestant roots.
  • Starting in about 1860 the definition of being christian started to change from a religion more to a form of moralism.
  • Around 1960-1970 many universities including Yale pull away from affiliation and being called a “christian institution.”
    • Even in the early 30’s many public universities had required chapel and at some required Sunday services.
  • Why does this history matter?
    • This helps to explain the reaction against christianity on campuses today.
      • Multiculturalism at many universities means anything but evangelical christianity.
      • It is documented that evangelical christians are less likely to be hired as a professor at a university.
      • The established universities may view christianity as a threat, or trying to take back control of the university.
  • Universities should recognize that religious perspectives should be the same as social perspectives.
  • Christians in academia should think about how their christianity affects their viewpoint and view it as a contribution to their field of study.
  • Christian students need to possess a winsomeness.
    • People are often not interested in what you are saying, but rather how you are saying it.
    • Listen to people who you are talking to and don’t use debator’s listening.

Recommended Books

The Soul of The American University

Fundamentalism and American Culture

Secularization of the Academy

Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

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about the author

George Marsden


Professor George Marsden is currently a professor of history emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. George is the author of several books including The Soul of the American University.