2018 Epistle

The Friends Association for Higher Education (FAHE) met at Wilmington College (Wilmington, Ohio) from June 14-17, 2018 on the theme “Keeping Faithful in a Time of Rapid Change.”

Nelson Bingham, recently retired provost of Earlham College, used the goals of community and diversity to caution us against using “class” in its various manifestations to isolate persons. He implored us to value the identity and dignity of each individual to generate respect.

Hannah Lutz (Bridges of Hope), Allen Willoughby (Sugar Tree Ministries), and Thomas Vaughn (Tender Mercies) described being faithful to the homeless in communities in southwestern Ohio. They encouraged participation by colleges and their students in this service.

A panel of Quaker-college presidents challenged us to seek vitality through distinctiveness, transformative experiences, and authentic language. They encouraged us to help in socializing new faculty to Quaker practice. They also reminded us how privileged we are to participate in higher education in spite of current challenges.

Laura Rediehs offered ways to keep the candle of education lit by showing how the nurturing of the beloved community can overcome the idolatry of economic concern, technology dependence, and procedural confinement. To accomplish this, we must be both custodians and critics of culture. We should address whether our teaching and professional practice is governed by the idol of “meeting standards;” whether mocking disciplines is a defense of these idols; and whether the pursuit of academic debate becomes simply a form of conflict. We should accentuate the power of the positive for liberation from idolatry in order to live an illuminated life in a supportive community. In this way the candle of education cannot really be extinguished.

Members’ contributions explored the theme “Faithfulness in a Time of Rapid Change,” calling us to honor Friends traditions, love and care for creation, clarify our mission while under fire, and promote life sustaining use of technologies.

We look forward to meeting in search of truth again at Swarthmore College and Pendle Hill in June, 2019.

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The 2018 FAHE conference is this week

We’re all looking forward to gathering on Thursday at Wilmington College for the 2018 FAHE conference. Here’s the agenda and list of presentations.

There’s still time to join us!

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The 2018 conference is almost here

The Program Committee is busy putting the final touches on this year’s FAHE conference. We’ll be gathering at Wilmington College June 14-17 to consider our theme of “Keeping Faithful in a Time of Rapid Change.”

We’ll be debuting our newest book in the our series “Quakers and the Disciplines.” Volume 5 is “Quakers, Politics, and Economics.” We’ll also hear presentations centered around next year’s volume, “Quakers, Sustainability and Creation Care.”

Please join us! The deadline to reserve housing is June 4th, so don’t delay!  More information and registration is here.

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2018 Conference registration is open!

Registration for the 2018 FAHE Conference at Wilmington College, “Keeping Faithful in a Time of Rapid Change,” is now open. Read all about our plenary speakers, agenda, campus tours and more, and register here.

Our secondary theme, based on the next volume in our book series Quakers and the Disciplines, is Quakers, Creation Care and Sustainability.

If you haven’t yet submitted a proposal for a session, paper or panel discussion addressing either theme or other topics of Friends in education, there’s still time. Submit here.


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Call for papers: FAHE 2018 conference

We invite you to join with other Friends educators from colleges, universities and study centers globally for an invigorating time together in Ohio, at Wilmington College for our 2018 conference on June 14 – 17, 2018.

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. Higher education is rapidly changing due to corporatization of education into an “industry” with its “monetization and technologizing.” We struggle to challenge, change or adjust to his “brave new world” as we hold to our understanding of the purpose of education. Some of us find our fundamental values under assault. How do we find balance and the way forward will be explored at this Friends Association for Higher Education.

We invite proposals for presentations, workshops, and panel discussions that address any concern related to Friends and higher education, but especially on the theme of “Keeping Faithful in a Time of Rapid Change.”
Queries for Consideration:

* How does one keep faithful to the profession to educate students in a time of rapid change?
* How does one keep faithful to working as an independent scholar?
* How does one keep faithful to their spiritual values in their professional activities in a time of rapid change?
* How does one keep faithful to their scholarly discipline in a time of rapid change?
* How does one keep faithful to colleagues in a time of isolation due to rapid technological change?
* How does one keep faithful to students in a time of robosourcing and automated learning systems in a time of  rapid change?
* How does one keep faithful to their professional ethical values in a time of rapid change?
* How does one keep faithful to Friend’s values in their professional activities in a time of rapid change?
* How does one keep faithful to Friends values in their dealings with others (colleagues, coworkers, parents, and students)?

We also invite proposals that address our disciplinary theme “Quakers, Creation Care, and Sustainability” for the 6th volume in our book series Quakers and the disciplines.

Proposals received by January 31, 2018 will be given preference.

Please submit your proposal here.

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2017 Epistle

Epistle: FAHE Annual Conference, Guilford College, June 15-18, 2017

To Friends Everywhere:

We, faculty, students, administrators and others, with a loving concern for post-secondary education and its intersection with Quakerism, convened at Guilford College in North Carolina. Our theme for this year, “Global Education, Global Quakerism,” emerged throughout a program designed to help us discuss the global diversity of Quakerism, the changing educational landscape in the world, and how members of the Religious Society of Friends might engage these topics.

We gathered the first evening to hear from Diya Abdo, Associate Professor of English at Guilford and founder of the program Every Campus a Refuge.  Hearing about the flood of refugees across Europe and the call from Pope Francis that every parish support one refugee family, Diya wondered what colleges could do. Drawing on campus resources of housing, teachers, and volunteers she shaped her idea and since the fall of 2015, Guilford College has served 27 refugees. Her program inspired seven other campuses across the country to join in this work. Diya challenged us to imagine what might be possible at our home institutions.

Listening the next morning to Guilford President Jane Fernandes’ welcoming address, we heard her say that though she did not know the specifics regarding the future of the college, she could sense that change is coming.  In spite of what she does not know, she feels a sense of calling to be here, with these people, doing this work. The Quaker commitment to listening into and out of the silence takes us to a deeper place and builds stronger relationships. We were warmed by her honesty and inspired by her steady faith.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the first World Gathering of Quakers at Guilford College and we celebrated this historic event. The prospect of hosting this event in 1967 leveraged the integration of the college five years earlier, in 1962. As we acknowledged this important history with appreciation, we also noted the status of our organization as remaining predominantly white. Friends named our intention to attract and be relevant to a wider multiplicity of voices.

We were inspired by the message from David Niyonzima, former Superintendent and General Secretary of Burundi Yearly Meeting. After escaping genocidal violence himself in an attack that took the lives of 8 of his 11 students, he dedicated his life to the work of trauma healing, to leadership development through education, and transformation through the practice of Quaker faith.

We listened to each other in both unprogrammed and semi-programmed worship. One message by an undergraduate student from Rwanda was read aloud to us. Its powerful themes of forgiveness and reconciliation were resonant on personal and generational levels.

We were offered two dozen sessions, ranging from Physics to Leadership to Quaker Theology and History. We learned of Quaker study centers’ use of technology to reach people around the world. Other presentations lifted up the writing and publications of several scholars. A featured book was our book series’ volume four “Quakers, Business, and Industry,” edited by Stephen Angell and Ben Pink Dandelion. We noticed that change, adaptation, and transformation were words that arose in many sessions.

The annual meeting for business included approving a surplus-generating budget. In spite of financial challenges we feel confident that the membership has the resources and will to meet future needs. To ensure a strong future for FAHE, we are committed to strategic exploration toward our own growth and strengthening.

We expressed deep gratitude for several friends who have faithfully served FAHE and minutes of appreciation were read for them. Special thanks were noted for Kimberly Haas, dedicated staff person, and for Donn Weinholtz who served with great faith as clerk for two years and on the executive committee for eight.

We look forward to future fellowship and exchange of ideas. Wilmington College in Ohio has gracefully invited us to gather there next year and we look forward to another Spirit-filled opportunity to evolve together, inwardly and outwardly, toward Beloved Community. We do not know what change the future will bring, but we know that we have gifts to share and courageous work to do.  We invite you to join us.

Yours in Learning and Light,
Friends Association for Higher Education
June 17th, 2017

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2017 Conference registration is open

Registration for the 2017 Friends Association for Higher Education conference is now open.

Please visit the conference website to read about our theme this year: “Global Education, Global Quakerism.” We’re commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Friends World Committee for Consultation gathering at Guilford College with a program that address the global diversity of Quakerism and the changing educational landscape and pedagogy of the Religious Society of Friends.

We hope you’ll join us at Guilford College, June 15-18!

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FAHE seeks proposals for 2017 conference

The Friends Association for Higher Education will hold its 2017 conference at member institution Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 15-18.  We invite you to join with other Friends educators from colleges, universities and study centers globally for an invigorating time together at Guilford.

Our conference theme is “Global Quakerism,” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Friends World Committee for Consultation convening at Guilford.

We also will consider a disciplinary focus this year on “Quakers, Politics, and Economics.”  in preparation for the fifth volume in FAHE’s book series “Quakers and the disciplines.”  The editors, David Ross of Bryn Mawr College, Tom Head of George Fox University and Michael Snarr of Wilmington College invite proposals for topics for volume 5 that can be presented at the 2017 FAHE conference.

We are currently accepting proposals for sessions, workshops, panel discussions and papers for the conference. We welcome topics that address either theme, or other concerns in Quaker higher education.

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Membership renewal time

For FAHE members, it’s time to renew!

In addition to our institutional members, FAHE includes individual members — faculty and staff at Quaker institutions, Friends teaching at other schools, and others who support instilling Friends testimonies and values into higher education.

FAHE members are the lifeblood of our organization, lending their talents and experience to our annual conference planning, publications and creating a network of educators advancing Quakerism in higher education worldwide. Member benefits include a discount on conference registration fees; our informative bimonthly newsletter; Quaker Higher Education, our biannual online journal, and publishing and presenting opportunities.

Individual dues are $60 per year ($50 emeritus faculty and $15 students), but only for a few more days!  Our fiscal year begins on October 1, and dues are scheduled to increase to $75 ($60 emeritus faculty and $20 students); however, we’re giving members an extended opportunity to renew at the old rate for one more week.

Dues may be submitted online or by surface mail.

If you attended this year’s conference at Woodbrooke, your dues were included in the conference registration. If you were unable to attend, it’s time to renew.  Thank you!

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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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