To address our theme “Holistic Education: To What End?” we’re pleased to announce three plenary speakers. Click here for conference information and registration.
1 Jay Case: Students Are Not Simply Thinking Beings: Cultivating Desires for Quaker Principles
When they first arrive in our classrooms, many of our students are convinced that the main reason they are in college is to acquire training for a job. This conviction, arguably, looms as the greatest obstacle for those of us who wish to cultivate Quaker principles in our students, such as the testimonies of equality, peace, integrity and simplicity.
Thus, we should further consider how our students have been formed and what college has to do with that formation. We may not recognize that many of the structures and practices of modern higher education have been built upon an assumption that humans are primarily thinking beings. That often puts professors in the business of disseminating information, teaching problem solving, and developing skills of critical thinking. While these are important tasks, those of us with Quaker convictions understand that humans are more than thinking beings.
Humans are also beings who desire, for good and for ill. How, then, do desires function within our pedagogy? Many desires are formed by habits, dispositions and practices that are thought to be meaningful. If we are to encourage students to desire faith, service and compassion, we need to think more carefully about how to develop meaningful practices, habits and dispositions within our classroom and the wider campus community.
Jay R. Case is a Professor of History at Malone University. His scholarly interests lie in American religious history, particularly the history of evangelicalism. In 2012 he published An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920, with Oxford University Press. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1999 and his B.A. from Taylor University in 1984. He has been a member of Jackson Friends Church since 2000.
2 Steve Chase: Educating For Beloved Community: Cultivating Creative Maladjustment Within Ourselves and Our Students
“Seek first the Kingdom of God” was a core conviction of prophetic Judaism, the early Jesus movement, and the early Quaker movement. Being faithful for early Friends meant waging a nonviolent “Lamb’s War” to resist the corrupt kingdoms of this world and to build up what they called God’s “Peaceable Kingdom.” Many modern Quakers remain true to this spiritual vision and resonate powerfully with Martin Luther King’s prophetic call to join together and help foster the “Beloved Community.”
The Eco-Justice Working Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has recently called on all Quakers and people of goodwill to become an active part “of a Great Turning toward peace, justice, ecological balance and more durable, local economies.” Are we prepared to repent and change the road we travel from the Empire Way to Martin’s Way? Are we prepared to make this spiritual orientation central to our calling as educators–no matter what discipline we teach, and no matter whether we teach on Quaker or non-Quaker campuses? If so, how can we cultivate what Martin Luther King called “creative maladjustment,” an outlook so necessary to taking faithful and effective action to heal and transform the world?
Steve Chase is the author of Letters To A Fellow Seeker: A Short Introduction To The Quaker Way, a member of the Putney Friends Meeting in Vermont, and the Director of Antioch University New England’s environmental studies master’s program in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability. His dissertation, Activist Training In The Academy, has provided the curriculum framework for The Change Agency, a non-academic activist training organization in Australia.
3 Tracey Hucks: Becoming ‘Quakerly’: The Legacy of Social Justice and its Challenges
Social justice at Quaker institutions has always been in a dialogical relationship with the wider society. Throughout major historical moments in American history, Quaker institutions struggled to maintain their commitment to tolerance and community while seeking to deepen their ties to social justice. In contemporary contexts, what does it mean for institutions with Quaker roots to live and learn in a multicultural educational environment? And what have been the challenges to sustain a commitment to co-existence across difference?
Tracey Hucks teaches in the Department of Religion at Haverford College. Her current research involves the study of African-derived traditions in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and offers a historical, literary, and ethnographic account of religious identity in colonial Trinidad. Her book, Yoruba Traditions and African American Religious Nationalism examines the history of Yorùbá religious practice among African Americans in the United States and was published in 2012 with the University of New Mexico Press in the Religions of the Americas Series.