Has the American university gained the whole world but lost its soul?
In terms of money, prestige, power, and freedom, American universities appear to have gained the academic world. But at what cost? We live in the age of the fragmented multiversity that has no unifying soul or mission. The multiversity in a post-Christian culture is characterized instead by curricular division, the professionalization of the disciplines, the expansion of administration, the loss of community, and the idolization of athletics.
The situation is not hopeless. According to Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, and Todd C. Ream, Christian universities can recover their soul—but to do so will require reimagining excellence in a time of exile, placing the liberating arts before the liberal arts, and focusing on the worship, love, and knowledge of God as central to the university.
Restoring the Soul of the University is a pioneering work that charts the history of the university and casts an inspiring vision for the future of higher education.
"This work calls all of us to recover a commitment to the 'higher' work in higher education. Reviewing the rich tapestry of university life over the centuries, the authors remind us of the ways that colleges and universities have contributed to human flourishing in big and small ways while also suggesting a hopeful way forward. This is a joy to read!"
"All universities search for a soul, for some unifying vision of identity and mission. So say the authors of this remarkable book, and they comb through the history of universities in the West to show what kinds of souls they have—whether a heart for God's way and will in the world, for unifying and building a national culture, or for creating more personal wealth and prowess. And they show what a fragmented sprawl of competing visions and ambitions contemporary American universities have become. Can their souls be saved? Only if, the authors insist, they recover a pervasively theological vision, drawing on the only reality that can comprehend all that there is: God. Then they suggest ways in which theology might reintegrate university life. What a grand, sweeping book. I have been trying for forty years to learn how to be a Christian higher educator and to make higher education Christians, and this book humbles me with its breadth of knowledge and depth of wisdom. It should be required reading for this field, especially for those called to lead in it."
"Restoring the Soul of the University makes it clear that the Christian failure to sustain universities in service to God was the result of the failure of Christians to think through their most basic convictions. But this is not a negative book. It is an insightful and historically illuminating account of how the university became fragmented, institutionally and in the souls of those who teach and study in the university setting. An imaginative theological proposal is developed that is a practical and hopeful alternative for restoring the soul of the university."
"The travails of the contemporary university have been dissected and diagnosed by scholars and pundits alike. The authors of this provocative volume locate our current crisis in a sense of fragmentation that is endemic to modern universities, a flaw that secular universities are not equipped to remedy. Glanzer, Alleman, and Ream argue that a unified, coherent vision for higher education is possible only when that vision is based in the triune God and God's story of redemption. Their book provides a prophetic critique of secular education and an attractive—albeit challenging—vision to Christian educators of what a learning community can be when truly centered in the triune God."
"Combines a critique of the fragmented, secular 'multiversity' with a vision for Christian institutions to focus on the worship, love, and knowledge of the triune God."
"I share the passion of professors Glanzer, Alleman, and Ream for breathing new life into the institutions of modern higher education. I share, especially, their deep conviction that the Christian university is the most attractive path toward recovering a unity of purpose for higher education. As this book demonstrates so ably, the deep and nourishing roots of the Christian university wait to be tapped in fresh ways in order to restore a vibrant university with purpose. The promise of the Christian story has always been to offer up a vision of human flourishing for our broken world. May that vision shine with splendor from the halls of learning at the Christian college and university."
"A thorough and ambitious book, Restoring the Soul of the University issues a stirring call to Christian institutions of higher education. The authors offer a deep historical analysis, along with a careful framing of the questions, philosophies, and challenges that define the mission of the university."
"As someone who has studied Christian higher education for over a decade, I see this work as a milestone contribution to the literature and ongoing conversation. It is academically sound yet easily accessible, respectful of historical contributions yet breathtaking in its vision, and clear-eyed about problems yet hopeful about solutions. In short, the work does what it urges all of us in Christian higher education to do—integrate everything we do around the worship of the triune God. As I read the book, I found myself cheering on nearly every page; they have said what has needed to be said for a long time. While they acknowledge that 'a university with a soul will never be fully embodied on this earth' (p. 323), they still long for it. When you read their book, you will too."
Introduction: Can the Soul of the University Be Saved?
Part I: Building the University
1. Creating the Original Blueprint of a University
2. A Cracked Pinnacle and Shifting Foundation: Attempting to Repair the University (1517–1800)
3. The State Takes Over the Academic Palace in Europe (1750–1870)
4. The American Idea of the University: Freedom Within the Bounds of Science (1825–1900)
5. Fracturing the Soul: The Creation of the American Multiversity (1869–1969)
Part II: The Fragmentation of the Multiversity
6. The Fragmented Soul of the Professor
7. Falling to Pieces: Declaring Independence from Curricular Coherence
8. Fragmenting Students: The Curricular/Cocurricular Division
9. Chief Fragmentation Officer: The Advent of the Professional Administrator
10. The Multiversity's Religion: The Unifying and Fragmenting Force of Athletics
11. The Consequences of Multiversities with Fragmented Souls: Online and For-Profit Higher Education
Part III: Restoring the Soul of the University
12. When Theology Serves the Soul of the University
13. Reimagining the Academic Vocation
14. Reimagining the Academic Disciplines
15. Reimagining the Cocurricular: Transforming the Bubble to a Greenhouse
16. Reimagining Academic Leadership
Epilogue: Can a University with a Singular Soul Exist?