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Epistle, Friends Association for Higher Education and Friends Council on Education Joint Conference, June 12-15, 2014
Epistle Committee: Rebecca Mays (Philadelphia YM), Barbara Heather (Canadian YM), Jim Hood (North Carolina YM Conservative)
Greetings to all!
The Friends Association for Higher Education gathered for its annual conference in joint sessions with the Friends Council on Education on the extraordinarily beautiful campus of Haverford College from June 12 to June 15, 2014. Walking the lawns of Haverford with the sounds of catbirds and sparrows ringing in our ears, we were startled by the lush green of late spring and blessed by the warmth of being in this special place of learning. FAHE minutes its appreciation to Dan Weiss and Haverford College for hosting us with such love and tender attention to our needs; to Walter Sullivan and Kaye Edwards for their leadership in organizing our program; and to Geoff Labe, Director of Summer Programs, and his team of easily identified Haverford-tee-shirted students who unobtrusively and effectively met our every need.
Welcomed by Haverford’s president, Daniel Weiss, Thursday evening we were nurtured during our first plenary session by the music and deeply spiritual message of Tribe 1, a diverse group of performers whose songs give us hope and the inspiration to “see through illusion”towards the truth that guides us into right relationship. The following morning, Sarah Willie-LeBreton challenged us to embrace the contradictions of working toward justice, reminding us through personal story interwoven with social theory to engage our skills and knowledge of collective practice and decision-making in order to “nurture a radical patience,”“continue to upend what puts people down,”and “open the circle [and] clarify the conversation”as we endeavor to “jar oppression from its structural scaffolding.”
In smaller, joint sessions, the topics of which ranged from honors programs to study abroad opportunities to economics to communal discernment, presenters blessed those gathered with a plenitude of questions and insights into how we might reorder attitudes and actions to embody spiritually-grounded, justice-oriented relationships. We probed the work of 17th-century Quaker Elizabeth Bathurst, whose “bold and courageous”theology, written only in her third decade of life, continues to provide much to challenge and inspire Friends. We engaged in a rich discussion about the problems that attend to our culture’s obsession with economic concerns, focussing on how our idolatry of money consistently diverts our decision-making attention from ethical consideration.
During the Friday evening plenary session, Kimberly Wright Cassidy, president of Bryn Mawr College; Robin Baker, president of George Fox University; Darryl J. Ford, head of school at William Penn Charter; Nancy O. Starmer, head of school at George School; and Irene McHenry, executive director of Friends Council on Education, discussed the multiple ways in which the Quaker history of Friends’institutions continues to inform their educational practices, and they considered mechanisms by which Quaker schools and colleges might further the educational vision of their founders. We were called to continue to question the use of form for form’s sake and to see excellent education for all as today’s most pressing civil rights issue.
Additional presentations explored the vitality of recovering a sense of place, the shifting meanings of “plain”and “simple,”the dangers of committing violence through the “scholarship of personal attack,”the problems that ensue when Quakers have not been able to live up to the full measure of our principles, and the possibilities of a Christ-centered truth-seeking, which, conversely, is a being sought.
In the final plenary, Micheal Birkel, Shan Cretin, and Diane Randall “consider[ed] the connections of things,”most particularly an imagined response by John Woolman to the working paper recently produced by the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Committee on National Legislation entitled “Shared Security,”a bold vision of a fifty-year plan for more effective and longer-lasting international security. Woolman’s mystic and activist spirit pervaded their reflections on how to move beyond the concept of the nation state and international engagement through the production of war.
The sunlight over Sharpless Hall before our Saturday evening plenary, backlighting the trees and buildings with a sharp clarity, spoke for the clarifying intellectual and spiritual inquiries of this year’s FAHE sessions. We explored right relationships in many arenas. Several sessions named the tensions of individual rights and corporate authority in our Quaker efforts to create communities of justice. We named avenues of justice that create agency and restore right relationships where broken. Sessions on interfaith relations identified components of the Quaker foundational ethic for how to treat those who do not practice our testimonies or espouse our tenets of faith. We challenged economic systems that support the elite on the backs of the poor; we faced our technological advances with gratitude for the doors that are opening for connection and with healthy skepticism for the threat to wholeness as a human community. We identified the drivers of conflict to find how to use that energy instead for transformation. In our meetings for worship, gentle biblical vision and deep quiet inspired us for the long road still to travel. Saturday evening’s “Epilogue”included ministry that commemorated and celebrated—with affection and humor—the life of T. Canby Jones, one of the principal founders of FAHE.
FAHE is pleased to announce the publication of its first book. Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education is composed of articles drawn from the first fourteen issues of Quaker Higher Education (QHE), FAHE’s biannual scholarly journal, which the association launched in 2007. Initiated as a vehicle for promoting communication among Quaker scholars, QHE has become a popular venue for sharing many of the finest papers and write-ups of presentations from the annual FAHE conference, products that previously too often disappeared following each conference’s conclusion. It also solicits articles addressing a wide variety of topics and issues of interest to Friends. QHE is published in April and November of each year.
Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education is available through Barnes and Noble’s website. Proceeds will accrue to FAHE to support the association’s future publishing efforts.
Summer is upon us, and that means the FAHE conference is fast approaching.
We still have a few spots open for housing as we look forward to gathering on June 12-15th, on the beautiful campus of FAHE member institution Haverford College.
This year we convene with the Friends Council on Education, the organization of preK-12 Friends schools worldwide. Our theme is “Exploring Right Relationships,” and our plenary speakers and presenters have prepared an invigorating, thought-provoking menu of sessions.
Of special note, we begin on Thursday evening, June 12th, with a concert by Tribe 1. In the summer 2014 edition of AFSC’s Quaker Action, you can read Lucy Duncan’s interview with Tribe 1 founder and director Niyonu Spann.
We invite you to join us! More information here.
The deadline for housing at the Friends Association for Higher Education and Friends Council on Education 2014 joint conference is Wednesday, May 21st.
We’re gathering on the Haverford College campus June 12-15. Visit the conference website to see the full program. Please join us!
In February, two beloved champions of Quaker higher education and scholarship passed away.
A co-founder of FAHE, T. Canby Jones taught in the Religion and Philosophy department of Wilmington College for many years. He was also a founding member of Campus Friends Meeting in Wilmington, Ohio. Canby was a well-known, life-long scholar on George Fox.
The spring 2104 issue of Quaker Higher Education contains Wilmington College’s memorial minute for T. Canby Jones. The school’s Quaker Heritage Center has a tribute exhibit on display through May 2nd.
Newton Garver, University at Buffalo philosophy professor, peace activist and founder of an education fund for impoverished Bolivians, died Feb. 8 after a long illness. He devoted his life to his beliefs in social justice and had a special interest in the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
The Buffalo News published a lengthy obituary on Newton’s life and accomplishments. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. May 3 in the Orchard Park Quaker Meeting House, 6924 E. Quaker St., Orchard Park, NY.
Registration is now open for the 2014 Friends Association for Higher Education and Friends Council on Education joint conference at Haverford College from June 12th through 15th. It’s the first time in eight years that educators from pre-K through college will gather together with a concern for Friends testimonies in education. Our theme is “Exploring Right Relationships.”
Registration is now open for the 2014 Quaker College Fair. It’ll take place on Saturday, May 17th from noon til 3 pm. at the Arch Street Meetinghouse in Philadelphia.
We begin with a discussion of the query “How can the college experience shape and nourish all aspects of who I am and what I can be?” Panelists include Sarah Willie-LeBreton, professor of sociology and anthropology at Swarthmore College; Hallie Ciarlone, college guidance counselor at Delaware Valley Friends School; and Luke van Meter, recent Haverford College graduate. There will be time for audience participation and questions.
Following the panel discussion, high school students and their families can visit with representatives from Quaker colleges. New this year, we’ll also have information on special opportunities for Quaker students, including student leadership programs and scholarships.
Register now for the Quaker College Fair.
Announcing one of the plenary sessions at the 2014 FAHE-FCE joint conference at Haverford College:
“Consider the Connections of Things”: John Woolman and International Relations
Michael Birkel, Shan Cretin, and Diane Randall
Saturday, June 14 – Founders Great Hall – 7:30-9:00 p.m.
How does the inward life of worship and the outward life of ministry for peace and social justice live in today’s world among Friends?. We will consider the document “Shared Security” (a collaboration of Friends Committee on National Legislation and American Friends Service Committee for reimagining US foreign policy) as read in the company of the 18th-centuryQuaker mystic and social reformer John Woolman.
Michael Birkel teaches religion at Earlham College and has written on Quaker spirituality and, more recently, interfaith understanding.
Shan Cretin is General Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action.
Diane Randall is Executive Secretary at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Washington, DC-based Quaker lobby in the public interest.
Registration opens March 17th. Please join us!
Rebecca Chopp and Dan Weiss, presidents of FAHE members Swarthmore College and Haverford College, speak today on WHYY Philadelphia’s Radio Times on the value of a liberal arts education. They’ve just edited the book Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts. Listen online .