Public Education, Religious Studies, and the Fight for the Soul of the University of Virginia



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Paul Harvey

Just a quick note to read Marie Griffith's post at Religion and Politics about the ongoing fiasco of the abrupt and secretive firing of the president of the University of Virginia coming from a sort of internal putsch by a few members of the university's Board of Visitors.

Currently director of the Danforth Center for Religion and Politics at Washington University, Marie reflects on what her undergraduate education at the University of Virginia meant to her, what a Religious Studies department ( as well as other departments currently "under the ax," such as Classics and German) means at a public university, and how the recent actions by the Board of Visitors so egregiously violate the very norms that the public university, at its best, is all about. Read it now


Here, just a brief excerpt, from her conclusion. As the product of a public university myself, I can't think of an issue I feel more strongly about:

Public education has long been political—how could it not be? But when pure profit motives take over universities, we are left with educational systems that pander to politicians and opportunists with the latest nostrum to capitalize on. That course looks doomed to fail the test of a true education: giving students the deep learning they need to be engaged, outward-focused citizens who are steeped in the marketplace of ideas, not simply the marketplace of consumerism.

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