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2016 Epistle


Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, Birmingham, UK
June 19, 2016

To Friends Everywhere:

After an eight year absence, the Friends Association for Higher Education again gathered at the beautiful Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, England.  Eager to explore the conference theme, Educating for Action, Friends from the United States, the U.K., Canada and Kenya were quickly called into action themselves, as torrential rains flooded Woodbrooke’s cellar, creating the opportunity for a bucket brigade team building event lasting well into the first evening. What a memorable start!

The program was rich in insights and variety. During  the initial plenary, Gerald Hewitson reflected on the deep origins of Quaker action, urging us to heed our traditions so we may “…walk a clear path through this busy, fractious , contemporary world.” The following day, Jan Sellars explored The Labyrinth as a path for learning and for peace. Her session included instruction on drawing labyrinths as well as hands-on opportunities to explore finger labyrinths. That evening Esther Mombo described the influence of Friends and education on the evolution of women’s status in Kenya.  As a member of the Board of Friends Theological College she expressed her hope that FAHE might soon hold its conference at FTC.  Paul Rogers analyzed the causes and impacts of the “Irregular War” involving “Isis, elites and revolts from the margins,” focusing particularly on our flawed world economic system that is producing ever greater inequality fuelling Islamic extremism.  Margaret Benefiel presented the final plenary reflecting on the role of spirituality in leadership, based on her experiences leading the “Soul of Leadership” programs offered sometimes in Boston, and sometimes at Woodbrooke.

Between plenaries, in concurrent sessions, we learned much from each other.  Multiple case studies illustrating “Educating for Action” were presented, including reflections on the Quaker Leadership Scholars program at Guilford College, faculty development in conflict resolution for Rwandan teachers,  and using Bible-based materials for  promoting social action.  Distinctive instructional methodologies, such as interdisciplinary teaching, the flipped classroom, creating learning environments, and making and breaking bread, were explored.  Various approaches to peace education were examined in detail, as were individual orientations to teaching and learning, as these are affected by gender orientation and spiritual autobiography.

One session focused on the process involved in developing the latest volume in our Quakers in the Disciplines  book series,  Quakers in Literature.  As a prelude to the next volume, a second theme of the conference, “Technologies of Change: Quakers, business and industry,” received particular attention.  Biographical snapshots of several leading nineteenth and twentieth century Quakers prominent in the development of commerce in the U.K. and the U.S. were presented.  Additionally, the Quaker orientation to accumulating personal debt was explored.

In the midst of all of this intellectual and spiritual bounty, within our Meeting for Business, Friends confronted FAHE’s real and serious financial challenges.  To remain vital, indeed to continue to exist at all, we must substantially increase our membership and funding.  It is our intention to reach out to younger Quaker scholars, and others who might join and strengthen us.  This will include efforts to attract the few remaining colleges and universities with Quaker traditions that are not currently FAHE members, as well as establishing affiliations with many Quaker academic and religious organizations to promote new synergies.

The stories provided by the members of our Presidents’ Panel reinforced the fact that all of our institutions are facing financial difficulties. However, they also revealed the power of Quaker institutions to overcome serious challenges when committed to Spirit-led discernment within loving communities.

We are profoundly grateful to the director of Woodbrooke, Sandra Berry, our main liaison at Woodbrooke, Ben Pink Dandelion, and to all the Woodbrooke staff who welcomed us warmly and who cared for our every need.  We have been deeply blessed to share time with such caring and attentive hosts in such a beautiful and inviting atmosphere.

We are already anticipating our June 2017 conference, at Guilford College.

In love and peace,

The Friends Association for Higher Education

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Conference agenda now on-line

We’ve just published the full agenda for the 2016 FAHE conference at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.  Please join us in England, June 16-19!  It promises to be a full, rich experience, on the theme “Educating for Action.”

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2016 conference at Woodbrooke

Registration is open for FAHE’s 2016 conference at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre!

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Call for Papers: 2016 FAHE conference

The Friends Association for Higher Education is pleased to announce it is accepting proposals for sessions, papers and workshops at its 2016 conference at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, U.K., June 16-19.

Our theme for 2016 is “Educating for Action.”

We invite you to join with other Friends educators from colleges, universities and study centers globally for an invigorating time together in England, on the beautiful grounds of our member institution Woodbrooke.

Whatever field we are in as Quaker educators, our practice is informed by a faith that calls us to be transformed and in turn to help transform the world. We are nurturing our students to help make the world a better place; we are educating for action. 

We invite proposals for presentations, workshops, and panel discussions that address any concern related to Friends and higher education, but proposals speaking to the theme “Educating for Action” will especially be welcome. We also invite a disciplinary focus this year on “Technologies of Change: Quakers, business and industry,” in preparation for the fourth volume in FAHE’s book series “Quakers and the disciplines.”

As you prepare for the conference, we hope the following queries will be helpful:

Queries for Consideration:

  • How do you help prepare students to make a difference in creating a just and peaceful world?
  • What in your experience has worked best in helping students transform their worldview and become scholars and contemplative activists?
  • Does Quaker transformational education have a distinctive pedagogy?
  • How do we bring a Quaker faith perspective to bear in working with students of different faiths or none?
  • What technologies are helpful and unhelpful in helping us educate for critical thinking, spirituals wisdom and action?
  • What can we learn from the Quaker tradition of transforming education and industry?

The deadline to submit a proposal is November 30, 2015. View the Request for Proposals website.

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2015 Epistle

Epistle, June 18-21, 2015

Epistle Committee: Trish Eckert (New Association of Friends), Mike Moyer (Iowa YM/FUM), and Walter Hjelt Sullivan (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting)

To Friends Everywhere.

The Friends Association for Higher Education gathered for its annual conference from June 18-21, 2015, on the campus of George Fox University, in Newburg, OR, neatly snuggled amongst the vineyards and fields of the Willamette Valley. The planning committee, led by Paul Anderson, arranged a variety of stimulating field trips to local sites and points of historical interest for those who arrived Thursday afternoon.

We were grateful to greet the 62 Friends who attended the conference from across the United States, Canada, and England.  We were overjoyed to welcome and re-welcome Friends working at Quaker K-12 institutions who had encountered our joint gathering with Friends Council on Education at Haverford College last year.

We felt particularly blessed by our gathering in light of concerns by some of our membership over recent controversial issues regarding gender diversity on the campus of George Fox University.  FAHE Executive Committee clerk Jeff Dudiak played an important role in encouraging us to stay in loving relationship and open and loving dialogue.

The conference theme “Truth and Transformation” spoke to our condition repeatedly throughout the conference.

The first evening Quaker author Haven Kimmel reminded us of the transformative power of our particular lived experience and the lure of God.  George Fox Professor, Bill Jolliff spoke to us about practicing our craft with rigor.  Like the poet, we may only reach a small audience, but none the less, they are worth the very best that we have to give.

The second night we met Lou Hoover, America’s first modern First Lady, through the theatrical talents of local actor, Jane Fellows and her one woman show First Lady Lou. Wife of Newburg’s own Quaker President of the United States Herbert Hoover, Lou told us stories from her life and encouraged us again and again to have the courage to do the right thing despite public sanction and popular criticism.

During the days we gathered in small workshops.  We shared our experiences of nurturing young people into adulthood in Quaker settings. We explored the words of early Quakers, learning from past tradition, adding the truth of our present understanding, and living into a faithful future. Friends shared their current scholarship, advances in pedagogy, and new practices for meaningful evaluations. We discussed the relevance and importance of figs and pigs, breathing in mindfulness, and tasting truth.

One workshop in particular addressed strategies so that each of our institutions could better understand the needs and provide support for transgender students.  It was a tender, listening, and learning session, opening up new and unfamiliar issues for many from across the diverse theological spectrum represented at the conference.

On the second morning, Jon Kershner spoke intimately of the life and thought of his friend John Woolman, the reluctant 18th century Quaker prophet who showed a singular willingness to return faithfully again and again to the motion of love in his work for the abolition of enslavement and his prophetic witness against the British imperial economy in the American colonies.

We proudly announced the publication of the second volume of our book series Quakers and the Disciplines: Befriending Truth.  We look forward to the third volume next year which will focus on Quakers and literature.

During the Saturday afternoon President’s Panel Discussion we heard from Robin Baker, President of George Fox University/host, Jane Fernandes President of Guilford College, Royce Frazier, President of Barclay College, and Donald Tucker, Provost of Malone University. They spoke to the challenges facing our Quaker institutions of Higher Education, including: finances, enrollment, innovation, and renewal.

Saturday evening, the plenary session opened with worship in song, led by Bill Jolliff and his banjo:

But we make God’s love too narrow
By false limits of our own:
And we magnify God’s strictness
With a zeal God will not own.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
Which is more than liberty.

Released Friend Margery Post Abbott spoke to the question “How do Quakers today articulate foundations of Quaker ministry and develop communities that nurture prophetic ministry among Friends?”

As we leave the conference we ask ourselves, How do we seek a way to be in relationship when our understandings of Truth seem at times to be in contradiction with each other?  We know that our shared commitment to teaching is a touchstone for all of us. We are grateful for the work of FAHE and the bridge it provides in stimulating open dialogue, connecting Friends across the spectrum of Quakerism, and supporting our endeavor to educate and nurture our students.

We are challenged to bring our prophetic truths home to our institutions and into our everyday lives and look forward to gathering together again in June 2016 at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham England.  Join us.

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2015 Conference Registration: deadline for housing is soon

We’re looking forward to gathering for the 2015 FAHE conference June 18-21 at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. Registration is open now, and the deadline for housing is Tuesday, June 2nd.  Don’t miss out!

View the conference agenda and registration information.

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2015 Conference: Request for Proposals

The Friends Association for Higher Education is accepting proposals for presentations for its 2015 conference, at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, June 18-21. Our theme for 2015 is “Truth and Transformation.”  We invite you to join with other Friends educators from colleges, universities and study centers globally for an invigorating time together in the Pacific Northwest.

The conference seeks to deepen our practice and sharpen our skills as we seek to pursue, discern, and honor the truth with our Quaker legacy, with ourselves and each other, with our gifts and vocations, with the latest advances in technology, with the larger cultures around us, with the world’s resources, and with that of God in each of us.

We invite proposals for presentations, workshops, and panel discussions that address any concern related to Friends and higher education, but proposals speaking to the theme Truth and Transformation will especially be welcome. We also will be inviting a disciplinary focus this year on Quakers and Literature, so proposals on that subject will also be welcome.

Queries for Consideration:

  • As seekers of truth, are we open to the manifold ways it may be expressed, including surprising and unsuspected venues?
  • As discerners of truth, are we able to weigh its manifestations prayerfully and reflectively, willing to celebrate its discovery with joy?
  • As responders to truth, are we receptive to its transforming and convicting power in our lives, embracing its implications?
  • As servants of truth, are we willing to go on its errands, cheerfully obedient to its claims upon our lives?
  • As teachers of truth, are we diligent in imparting to others a portion of that liberating measure which we ourselves have received by grace?
  • As publishers of truth, are we faithful in sharing our witness in the world, connecting the liberating power of truth with the pressing needs of the world?

Visit the request for proposals webpages.

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Guilford College seeks Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies

Guilford College has an opening for the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies. The position is responsible for directing Friends Center, including maintaining the mission and vision of Friends Center, cultivating a Quaker ethos on campus and helping nurture it in the wider community, working with and supervising staff in their work leading the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, the Quaker Renewal Program, and the Campus Ministry Office, and maintaining the strength of Friends Center through effective communication and fund-raising.  Responsibilities also include instructional work in the Religious Studies Department in areas of Quaker history, theology, spirituality, social testimonies, faith & practice, QLSP seminars, and special topics; strategic planning for the minor; and offering off-campus programs in Quakerism.

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The Friends Association for Higher Education is pleased to welcome Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, Kenya as a new institutional member.

Founded in 1942, and located in the highlands of Western Province in Kenya, Friends Theological College offers certificates, diplomas and bachelors degrees in theology and pastoral ministry.  FTC is a ministry of Friends United Meeting.  Dr. Robert Wafula is the Principal of Friends Theological College.

We welcome Dr. Wafula and his FTC colleagues to FAHE!

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Quaker Higher Education, Autumn 2014

FAHE is pleased to announce the publication of the Autumn 2014 edition of Quaker Higher Education. In it, educators  consider how to establish and nurture right relationships, with most of the pieces coming from the June 2014 conference of the Friends Association for Higher Education at Haverford College. This year’s conference included many passionate and careful explorations of how we can support each other, our students, and our society.

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