Wednesday, October 25 @ 4:00 p.m., Chemistry D200, 2036 Main Mall – Rabbi Lord Sir Jonathan Sacks, philosopher, theologian, politician, one of the UK’s top public intellectuals, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the Commonwealth 1991-2013. Baron Sacks will be brought to us by video. Response by: Dr. Olav Slaymaker, Professor Emeritus Geography, UBC
The Dignity of Difference versus the Clash of Civilizations: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Speaks to the Positive Moral Contribution of Religion in our Globalized World.
Wednesday, November 29 @ 4:00 p.m., MacLeod Building Room 254, 2356 Main Mall – Dr. Thomas Heilke, Professor of Political Science, and Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, UBC Okanagan
Discerning the Times: Rethinking the Foundations and Sources of Democracy
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 4:00 p.m., Room TBA – Dr. William Newsome, Neurobiologist, Stanford University
Of Two Minds: A Neuroscientist Balances Science and the Big Questions
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 @ 4:00 p.m. – Expert Medical Panel Discussion on Mitigating the Addiction Crisis
John Koehn, Addiction Medical Practitioner, New Westminster, Royal Columbia Hospital, completed a Fellowship under Dr. Evan Wood, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Jay Wong, Psychiatry Resident UBC—St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health.
Jadine Cairns, Nutritionist, Children’s Hospital, Specialist in Eating Disorders
Gabriel Loh, Doctor of Pharmacology UBC—Clinical Coordinator Pharmacy Proctice, Richmond Hospital, Vancouver Coastal Health, Clinical Assistant Professor UBC
C. S. Lewis’s The Four Loves has greatly shaped Christian understanding of love. It has become common practice to speak of “four” loves. But are there really four? What is love itself in essence? Dr. Lepojärvi, a former President of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society, argues that the title of The Four Loves is misleading. He claims that there are not “four”, nor are they even “loves”. Charity or agape is the most misunderstood – even, or especially, among Lewis’s most devoted readers. This will provide an intriguing rethink of a long time classic.
Dr. Jason Lepojärvi is a scholar-in-residence at Regent College for the 2016-17 academic year. His current passion is a Postdoctoral research project on the theology of love, entitled Idolatry: Catholic and Protestant Perspectives. Born to a Canadian mother and a Finnish father, Jason studied theology and philosophy at the University of Helsinki, obtaining a PGCE. His master’s thesis focused on Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body and sexuality. It was published as the first introduction to the subject in Finnish. As a Visiting DPhil Candidate at Oriel College, Oxford, Jason served as the President of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society in 2012–13. He, his wife, and their two daughters moved to Vancouver in July 2016. Prior to this, they lived in Oxford, where Jason worked as the Junior Research Fellow in Theology at St Benet’s Hall. His doctoral thesis “God Is Love but Love Is Not God: C. S. Lewis’s Theology of Love” (2015) critically analyzed C. S. Lewis’s contribution to the debate on love (agape versus eros) that preoccupied much of twentieth century Protestant and Roman Catholic thought. It is a vital contribution to inter-religious dialogue.
Jason writes in order to capture our imagination:
“I intend to offer a definition of love itself (the genus of which the “four” loves are species), of Charity or agape in The Four Loves (it is not what we think it is), and of “Christian love” (if such a thing exists).
“Charity has undeniably been the most misunderstood of the ‘four’ loves, even or especially among his most devoted readers.”
“The word agape, too, had a more or less fixed meaning in the imagination of his contemporary Christian readership. This assumed fixed meaning, I now suspect, was actually part of the mindset Lewis wanted to correct. And it probably continues to be the default understanding of many Christians.”
“So absorbing is the description of these loves that one’s critical faculties are lulled to sleep.”
“There are not ‘four’, nor are they even ‘loves’.”
“The Four Loves—a simple and memorable title, brilliant really, but at the expense of creating a false expectation.”
“One of the most peculiar facts about The Four Loves is that it never tells us what love is. If you comb its pages for a definition of love, you will leave empty-handed.”
“Lewis dissected love but never patched it back together.”
“Charity or agape in The Four Loves is not what we think it is. It is actually surprisingly practical, mundane, and even ‘secular’.”
“Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a ‘Christian love’, only a Christian praxis of love.”
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. ~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.
There is a substantial and wide-ranging body of research connecting gender with achievement in schools and in career and home life. This lecture explores the intersection of feminism, faith, classroom silence and linguistic patterns. Gendered speech tendencies are understood as often aligned with expectations of femininity and masculinity with education as a primary site for gendered performances. The particular pattern of silence among female students in a whole variety of educational settings has been surprisingly consistent, particularly in light of advances in feminist pedagogical methods. Many female students are not very vocal in typical teacher-led classroom lessons. In addition, the Christian subculture has added identity factors and pressures concerning gender roles. While more recent work marks an important shift away from gender generalizations and sex differences to the particular situations and events at work in various educational settings, the research presented in this lecture explores how male students ‘have the floor’ with female students often serving as attentive, silent listeners. Various classrooms will serve as case studies, including a grade 2 classroom and 2 theology college classrooms; these examples offer implications for schooling in general and for what student silence tells us about the educational enterprise.
Allyson Jule, PhD, is Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Gender Studies Institute at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, Canada. She is also the President of Canada’s Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF.com) and a 3M Canada Fellowship winner, 2016. Allyson has particular research interests in the area of gender & language & silence in the classroom as well as gender & language alongside religious identity. She is the author of 2 monographs Gender, Participation and Silence in the Language Classroom:Sh-shushing the Girls and A Beginner’s Guide to Language and Gender (with a second edition due out later this year) and 5 edited collections of sociolinguistic or Christian scholarship: Gender and the Language of Religion, Being Feminist, Being Christian: Essays from Academia, edited with Bettina Tate Pedersen, Language and Religious Identity, Shifting Visions: Gender and Discourse,Facing Challenges: Feminism in Christian Higher Education and Other Places, also with Pedersen. Dr. Jule has also authored several articles in books and peer-reviewed journals of significant readership, including The Canadian Modern Language Review and Gender and Education. She has been very active on the editorial boards of academic journals, such as Gender and Education journal, Gender and Language journal, the British Journal of Contemporary Religion and the Irish Journal of Applied Social Sciences. She serves on the executive council for the International Gender and Language Association (IGALA).
Allyson Jule is a highly respected and internationally renowned scholar in the field of gender and education and gender and language and gender and Christian identity. She has presented her research in interdisciplinary contexts, connecting strongly as an interdisciplinary scholar in the fields of Women’s Studies, Education, Applied Linguistics, Teacher Education, Christian scholarship and Media Studies. She has presented at many national and international conferences, including at conferences in Canada, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Taiwan, Belgium, and Brazil, and ranging in topics from Sex and the City, the Mary Tyler Moore show, a critique of the Women’s Cancer memoir genre, princesses and superheroes in classroom textbooks, and Christian feminism.
Allyson Jule won TWU’s Davis Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011 and was named one of Canada’s top 10 professors for 2016. She was awarded the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship for excellence in university teaching and leadership, marking the only time a TWU professor has been so honoured. The announcement is found here: http://3mcouncil.stlhe.ca/resources/award-winners/#allyson-jule
The question sessions following the science/theology talks so far have been fascinating
Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014)
and inspiring (the questions that is – I can’t speak for the answers). The central section of the presentations, focussing on drawing resource from Biblical wisdom literature, draws on the close reading of the Book of Job that forms the central chapter of Faith and Wisdom. So one of the questioners wanted to know about Jesus’ sayings about nature in the gospels, and their significance. As in the cycles of speeches between Job and his comforters, way before the probing questions of the Lord’s Answer in chapter 38, the gospels, too, are full of nature metaphor and action. The calming of the waves, the wind-image of the Spirit, the liking of the ‘signs of the times’ to the signs that the coming of the Kingdom is close – all these speak of a relationship with the natural world that reflects the Godly Wisdom of a deep seeing, an inner understanding, and an investment of significance into the material, natural world. More thinking required here!
Another question searched the dilemma facing the church in sharing both the positive narrative for science and its consequences for an ethical, hopeful and fruitful managing of nature in future. Given the explicit Creation-Fall-Election-Incarnation-Resurrection-Ministry of Reconciliation-New Creation story within which science and technology make sense as God’s gifts, how is all this worked through in a world that largely does not recognise that big story? It reminded me of a wonderful question from an atheist sociologist at one of the first ever university-based discussions of the Faith and Wisdom in Science idea: ‘I wish I could share in your vision and hope, but as an atheist I can’t begin to share your assumptions: what can you give me?’
I think that the answer is not ‘nothing’ by any means. Back to St. Paul and his brilliant summary of the work of the Church – the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ of 2 Corinthians 5. To talk about our work being that of ‘healing broken relationships’ is something that everyone knows about and everyone wants. To point to ways in which we can hope to reverse the mutual harm that we and our planet are inflicting on each other, by framing the challenge in those terms, and then by proceeding as one does in the healing of any broken relationship, is a practical way ahead that anyone can buy into. Replacing ignorance with knowledge, fear with wisdom, and mutual harm with mutual flourishing – this is a framework for political and social care that has already generated practical outcomes, such as the Responsible Research and Innovation policy in the UK and Europe.
Tom McLeish takes a scientist’s reading of a historical series of texts (the oldest is the celebrated nature poem from the ancient Middle-Eastern ‘wisdom’ text – the Book of Job) describing the search for understanding of nature. He makes the case for science as a deeply human, social and ancient activity, embedded in some of the oldest stories told about human desire to understand the natural world. Drawing on stories from the modern science of chaos and uncertainty alongside these medieval, patristic, classical and Biblical sources, this narrative approach challenges much of the current ‘science and religion’ debate as operating with the wrong assumptions and in the wrong space. It also develops a natural critique of the cultural separation of sciences and humanities, suggesting an approach to science, or in its more ancient form natural philosophy – the ‘love of wisdom of natural things’ – that can draw on theological and cultural roots that remain highly relevant today. McLeish suggests that deriving a human narrative for science in this way can transform the way political discussions of ‘troubled technologies’ are framed, the way we approach science in education and the media, and reframe the modes in which faith traditions engage with science.
Tom McLeish is a very accomplished prize-winning biophysics professor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research (2008-2014) at the highly ranked University of Durham in the UK. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He served as Vice-President of Science and Innovation in the Institute of Physics 2012-2015, and is currently chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee. Tom did a first degree in physics and PhD (1987) in polymer physics at Cambridge University. A lectureship at Sheffield University in complex fluid physics was followed by a chair at Leeds University from 1993. He has since won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and ran a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research program in this field from 1999-2009 co-funded by EPSRC and industry. His research interests include: (i) molecular rheology of polymeric fluids); (ii) macromolecular biological physics; (iii) issues of theology, ethics and history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is in addition regularly involved in science-communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York. In 2014, he published an important book called Faith and Wisdom in Science (Oxford University Press).
Tom McLeish is a truly original and creative thinker, a superior intellect and a super nice and approachable guy. He is a deeply curious person that is offering a game changing perspective on contemporary debates of science and religion, science and the humanities. Professor McLeish draws on insights from a wide variety of disciplines. He has spoken at SFU, downtown Vancouver and Regent College. His lectures just keep getting better and richer each time. His book Faith and Wisdom in Science is a gem, as Dr. Olav Slaymaker says in his review. You simply must not miss him when he speaks at St. John’s College. He claims that ‘science’ is the current chapter of a longer book of natural philosophy, the love of wisdom about natural things. He taps into a long human quest to find a healing relationship to the whole cosmos.
Science is part of a larger culture. Classically it was the love of wisdom about natural things.
Science is a participative, relational, co-creative work within the overall kingdom of God for healing the broken relationship of humans and nature. It involves the critical factor of a broken covenant between humans and rocks.
Science is not about answers, but finding the right creative questions that give us traction.
The biblical narrative, upon deeper reflection, is deeply rooted in nature from beginning to end.
Job in his search for wisdom finds himself alongside God looking into creation with all the good, the bad and the ugly and grappling with it all. It involves courage.
The book of Job is God’s answer to suffering in a poem of questions.
We need to proceed with a deep kind of seeing in order to get beyond the kind of myths that block our vision, and freeze our intellect.
Wisdom is seeing the deep structure of nature. Nature is the long way to wisdom.
Wisdom comes from a healthy respect for the otherness of God and the otherness of nature.
In healthy biological life, there is a layer of dynamic chaos below the perceived order.
Tom McLeish’s scientific research over the last 25 years has contributed to the formation of the new field of ‘soft matter physics’. Interdisciplinary work with chemists, chemical engineers and biologists has sought to connect molecular structure and behaviour with emergent material or biological properties. He has also worked intensively with industrial researchers developing molecular design tools for new polymeric (plastic) materials, leading large national and international programs, with personal contributions mostly theoretical. Throughout he has also maintained an interest in public engagement with science, science policy and public values including the underlying, but often hidden, public narratives of science. He has been especially interested in the potential for theological narratives to inform debates in science and technology, both explicitly and implicitly.
Professor McLeish takes a fresh approach to the ‘science and religion’ debate, taking a scientist’s reading of the enigmatic and beautiful Book of Job as a centrepiece, and asking what science might ultimately be for. Rather than conflicting with faith, science can be seen as a deeply religious activity, and the current form of a deep and continuous thread in human culture.
Faith and Wisdom in Science presents science as the current flourishing of a very old and deeply human story. Weaving material from the modern science of the unpredictable together with ancient biblical and historical material it takes a fresh approach to the ‘science and religion’ debate – taking a scientist’s reading of the enigmatic and beautiful Book of Job as a centrepiece, and asking what science might ultimately be for. It makes the case for a story as human as any other – pain, love, desire, reconciliation, risk and healing emerge as surprising ingredients without which science is rootless. Rather than conflicting with faith, science can be seen as a deeply religious activity. There are urgent messages for the way we both celebrate and govern science.
McLeish delivers a picture of science as a questioning discipline nested within a much older, wider set of questions about the world, as represented by the searches for wisdom and a better understanding of creation in the books of Genesis, in Proverbs, in the letters of St Paul, in Isaiah and Hosea but most of all in that wonderful hymn to earth system science known as the Book of Job.
“This unique book is for those who are tired of the usual debates over science and religion. It is an intriguing read that includes stories from the lab about the quirkiness of scientific discovery, a deep meditation on the book of Job, and reflections on the current role of science in society. McLeish offers a thought-provoking view of the place of chaos and suffering in a universe under God’s control.” ~Deborah Haarsma, President of BioLogos
“Tom McLeish’s engaging passion for science is matched by his unique ability to help the reader locate science in a complex and enriching relationship with ancient texts and stories, contemporary culture and the big questions of human existence.” ~David Wilkinson, Durham University.
Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics at Durham University and also chairs the Royal Society’s education committee. After a first degree in physics and PhD (1987) in polymer physics at Cambridge University, a lectureship at Sheffield University, in complex fluid physics, lead to a chair at Leeds University from 1993.
He has since won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and ran a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research programme in this field from 1999-2009 co-funded by EPSRC and industry.
His research interests include: (i) molecular rheology of polymeric fluids); (ii) macromolecular biological physics; (iii) issues of theology, ethics and history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is in addition regularly involved in science-communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. In 2014 OUP published his book Faith and Wisdom in Science. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York.
From 2008-2014 he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2012 he was made Vice-President of Science by the Institute of Physics (IoP).
Support and Sponsorship Gratitude: Oikodome Foundation, Canadian Science & Christian Affiliation, Templeton Foundation, UBC Murrin Fund
Book Review: Tom McLeish (2014). Faith and Wisdom in Science. Oxford University Press. by Professor Emeritus Olav Slaymaker from UBC Geography
Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the highly ranked University of Durham in the UK.. With this book he has initiated a new genre of writing about the relation between science and faith. I have a raft of books on theology AND science; this book is the first one of which I am aware that attempts a theology OF science. It is an exciting book in so many ways and is marked by great originality. For some readers the case for the identicality of the scope of theology and science will be too radical to contemplate. Yet the argument is succinct and equally well grounded in Biblical exegesis and experiential empirical and theoretical science. I expect to continue to mine this book for several years to come.
The central theme of the book is that the scope of science and theology is identical and that therefore there must be insights that are worthy of exploration and exchange between the two disciplines. Both science and theology are built on faith; they are both more about imagination and creative questions than about method, logic and providing answers and they both involve pain and love as their central emotions. Perhaps the most revelatory part of his thinking is his view that order and chaos are equally part of God’s world and his refusal to accept the simplistic argument that God’s existence is proven from the fine tuning of the universe. He insists that we must grapple with the chaos and disorderliness of much of creation and incorporate this into our theology beyond simply throwing up our arms and declaring that the disorder is caused by the Fall. And he bases his view on an original exegesis of parts of Proverbs, Psalms, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, Job (especially Job) and Genesis 1 and 2 and bolsters his argument with insights from Romans, I Corinthians, the Gospel according to John and the Revelation of John.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The starting point of his presentation is the question “What is the difference between science as knowledge and natural philosophy as the love of wisdom about nature?” He suggests that our contemporary use of the term science is only a small, though powerful, part of the story. Science as knowledge implies certainty; the love of wisdom implies a journey. He immediately proceeds to describe his own journey from ignorance to understanding in his research into the nature of jellies, peptides and other natural substances. The excitement and frustrations of the process of discovery of new insights are communicated effectively.
Paralleling his love of wisdom achieved in his laboratory is the author’s enthusiasm for the natural wisdom of the Old Testament. He moves from wisdom as a practical way of life (Proverbs 8) through the importance of the creative word (Psalm 33); the dynamism of creation (Psalm 104); the teaching of correction from creation (Jeremiah); the importance of care for creation (later Isaiah) and a focus on a distant hope and a different cosmos (early Isaiah and Hosea); to the establishing of order through classification (Genesis 1 and 2). But the ever-present tension of chaos and order has to be addressed head-on. What does understanding mean in the context of chaotic objects like comets, storms and earthquakes? Only a little understanding but profound amazement. The fact that order can emerge from chaos “lies within the foundations of science today but it is also a narrative theme of human culture that is as old as any.” (p.101).
There follows a profound exegesis of the book of Job. McLeish does so by taking three snapshots of the book: (1) Surveying the foundational questions of cosmology, geology, meteorology, astronomy and zoology, through chapter 38; (2) A whole book survey as a study of the problem of pain (chapters 1, 6, 16, 32, 38 and 39) and (3) Following a “nature trail” through the whole book. His conclusion is “with trepidation and against the weight of opinion” that the Lord’s answer to Job’s complaint about God’s justice in His management of creation as a whole is indeed a valid answer for five reasons: (1) There is a third path of constrained freedom in which true exploration of life really lies (by contrast with control and chaos); (2) Job is led to a new perspective that “decentralizes humanity from any claim to primacy in creation and affirms the human possibility of knowing creation with an insight that is an image of the divine”; (3) the final voice is participative and invitational; (4) leads to a human relationship with creation in terms of a covenant; and (5) the Lord’s answer is eschatological and looks to future healing of the broken relationship between humanity and the creation. This leads directly to the New Testament creation narratives of creation and reconciliation.
The chapter labelled “A theology of science” is the capstone of the book. McLeish summarizes three traditional ways of speaking about theology and science: (1) a conflict model (e.g. Dawkins); (2) a non-overlapping magisterial model (e.g. Gould); and (3) reconciliation by comparative methodology, keeping the objects of enquiry separate (e.g Polkinghorne). Each of these is inadequate, he says. A theology of science, by contrast, assumes a linear history moving from ignorance to understanding, a special human aptitude for wisdom (“the most inexplicable thing about science is that it is explicable”), deep wisdom (“there is a deeper significance to understanding nature than simply knowing things”), ambiguity of problems and pain (the call to wait and experience of pain), order and chaos (God is not only the shaping force of order, he also unleashes the forces of thunder, clouds, lightning and wind), the role of questioning, love in the practice of science and participation in reconciliation. Science becomes, within a Christian theology, the grounded outworking of the ministry of reconciliation between humankind and the world.
The love of wisdom about nature leads to a concluding chapter about how we can mend our ways, share our science and face up to the future. McLeish sees that both science and the church have some hard thinking to do in order to operationalize his insights. The healing of the academy and of the church are both implied.
The epilogue turns to the encounter of Jesus with a Roman Centurion as a parable for science. In that parable Jesus calls the understanding of true authority “great faith”. The ability to do science, to deploy the love of wisdom to do with natural things gives us both extraordinary authority and responsibility. Can we choose the way, in wisdom, that deserves to be called “great faith?”
Our understanding of the secular has evolved in significant ways over the past century, and this can often lead to confusion. Within modernity, how do those who most strongly identify as religious and this who view themselves as secular discover their common cause? In this talk, Dr. Heilke will drill down into that language and its surprising history. He will sharpen our understanding and propose creative ways of engaging with one another fruitfully across different visions of societal life. Vital issues of justice, public morality, civic and religious liberties are at stake as we seek sustainable ways forward for human flourishing and the common good. Rejecting the ideological culture wars, Dr. Heilke holds out hope to find a symbiotic interface between the secular and the religious voice. We all see from a limited perspective, and we can all discover our identity and public engagement afresh through constructive dialogue and artful cooperation.
Thomas Heilke received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1990. After 23 years as a faculty member and a variety of administrative positions at the University of Kansas, he has been Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies UBC Okanagan since January, 2014. He is the recipient of three teaching awards, and has written on a variety of topics in political philosophy, including civic friendship, political theology, the political thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, Eric Voegelin, John Howard Yoder, and Thucydides, and Anabaptist political thought. He has authored or co- authored four books and edited or co-edited six further volumes. His work has appeared in journals that include American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Polity, The Review of Politics, and Modern Theology. Among his published books are Voegelin on the Idea of Race: An Analysis of Modern European Racism (1990); Nietzsche’s Tragic Regime: Culture, Aesthetics, and Political Education (1998); Eric Voegelin: In Quest of Reality (1999). He co-edited with Ashley Woodwiss The Re-Enchantment of Political Science: Christian Scholars Engage Their Discipline, (2001). He belongs to the American Political Science Association and the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.
Research Interests: Political philosophy and theory; classical political thought; modern political thought; political theology; religion and politics; political ideologies; international relations in political philosophy
Teaching: Political philosophy; history of political thought; religion and politics; international relations in political philosophy
Future Prospects for Higher Education: Key Drivers of Sustainability
November 17, 2015 @ 4:00 p.m. Woodward (IRC) Room 1
Jens Zimmermann, Canada Chair in Interpretation, Religion and Culture, Trinity Western University
Emily Osborne, PhD Cambridge, Postdoctoral Fellow UBC English
Bruce Hindmarsh, James Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology, Regent College
Ron Dart, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, University of the Fraser Valley
Recording of the Discussion
In a recent Globe and Mail article, CNN’s reporter Farheed Zakaria posits the tough question, “Is liberal-arts education more than a nostalgia for a bygone era of higher learning, now out of sync with today’s hyper-competitive skills-based economies?” Such questions are also posed by many powerful influencers today. In a different issue of the Globe, Alan Wildeman, President and vice-chancellor of University of Windsor, adjures us in an article entitled “We ignore liberal arts at our peril” where he argues that the liberal arts is essential for civility, democracy, wise decision-making and competence in the job world. As a multicultural country playing in the global arena, Canada needs a citizenry that learns and studies human differences, social behaviors and cultural traditions. Indeed, does higher education encourage the pursuit of character development together with academic excellence? Is it innovative, socially relevant and sustainable? Does it prepare students for negotiating an increasingly complex and competitive globalized world? What will inspire and engage their imagination in the pursuit of active citizenship and civil discourse? Post-secondary education has a huge cultural and economic influence in Canada. It shapes the future, while building on a critical appreciation of the past. In its community, UBC Vancouver has 10,000 postgraduate and 41,000 undergraduate students from around the world. They come with high hopes for skill and credential development, and long to contribute to meaningful research and to acquire good future careers. A large percentage hope to make a better world. Education seems essential for both self-awareness and global awareness. At the same time, globally education is under intense pressure from various forces (intrinsic and extrinsic), currently pulling it in different directions, amidst conflicting public and political expectations. In the early history of universities like Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale, Queen’s and McGill, character development was a central priority. It is timely for this panel to reflect upon the purpose and trajectory of the contemporary university, and the goods it is to pursue.
Jens Zimmermann, Canada Research Chair for Interpretation, Religion, and Culture at Trinity Western University, received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UBC and his Doctorate in Philosophy from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. His research interests in include continental philosophy (especially hermeneutics), theological anthropology, the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Christian humanism. He is author of Humanism and Religion: A Call For the Renewal of Western Culture (OUP 2012), and more recently of Hermeneutics: A Very Short Introduction, also with Oxford University Press.
Dr. Emily Osborne is currently a SSHRC-postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English, University of British Columbia. She received her PhD and MPhil from Cambridge University, where she studied medieval English, Icelandic and Scandinavian languages and literature. Her current research is interdisciplinary and transcultural, spanning literature from the seventh to fifteenth centuries in four languages, and engaging with sociolinguistics and philosophy of mind. Her academic publications and research projects are concerned with the history of rhetoric, poetic theory and metaphor theory, intentionality, and speech acts.
Bruce Hindmarsh took his D.Phil. degree in theology at Oxford University in 1993. From 1995 to 1997 he was also a research fellow at Christ Church, Oxford. He has since published and spoken widely to international audiences on the history of early British evangelicalism. He is the author of two major books: John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1996) and The Evangelical Conversion Narrative (Oxford University Press, 2005). Bruce has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards, research grants and fellowships. He has been a Mayers Research Fellow at the Huntington Library and a holder of the Henry Luce III Theological Fellowship. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is also a past-president of the American Society of Church History. He teaches the history of Christian spirituality at Regent College.
Ron Dart has taught in the department of political science, philosophy, religious studies at University of the Fraser Valley since 1990. He was on staff with Amnesty International in the 1980s. Ron has published more than 30 books/booklets, including books on Stephen Leacock, George Grant and the classical Canadian Red Tory tradition.