Symposium explores education in universities
By Jade Mardirosian
The fifth annual Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture will begin today, focusing on the topic of higher education and the exploration and communication of wisdom through learning.
The symposium is hosted by the Institute for Faith and Learning and will last through Saturday. It will include more than 120 presentations from across many disciplines beginning Thursday and representing more than 60 universities from the United States, Canada and Australia.
This year’s symposium is titled “Educating for Wisdom in the 21st Century University” and Dr. Jason Whitt, associate director of the Institute for Faith and Learning, explained the theme for this year’s gathering.
“Wisdom historically has been understood as the end, the purpose, of all education,” Whitt said. “Unfortunately, too often in modern higher education, wisdom had been relegated to the realm of philosophers and theologians. The aim of discovering new knowledge and imparting marketable skills has replaced the formation of wise students as the goal of education.”
Whitt said the symposium will aim to answer important questions relating to wisdom and education.
“Without wisdom, how is new knowledge to be used?” Whitt said. “How do university graduates seek meaning and significance in their lives, whatever their employment? How does the university fulfill its mission of nurturing students to serve the deepest needs of our world?”
Featured speakers at the symposium include Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament scholar, and Andrew Delbanco, who was named “America’s Best Social Critic” by Time Magazine in 2001. Baylor President Ken Starr will also be a part of a panel discussion, alongside Wheaton College President Phillip Ryken and the former president of Gonzaga University, Robert Spitzer. The panel discussion, titled “Educating for Wisdom in Christian Universities,” will take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB).
Dr. David Lyle Jeffrey, distinguished professor of literature and humanities in the Honors College, said this year’s theme is a relevant topic that students and faculty should be openly discussing.
“Students know as well as faculty that while intelligence is admirable and skill sets are indispensable, they are, in themselves, insufficient resources for the biggest issues we face,” Jeffrey said. “What our culture needs most right now is wisdom. This conference could not be more timely.”
Whitt said the symposium is beneficial for students and faculty, as it allows them to listen and join in conversation with prominent thinkers from around the world on an important topic.
“The Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture is building a national and international reputation as one of the premiere conferences considering these significant issues through the lens of the Christian tradition,” Whitt said.
Whitt said about 400 have registered to attend the symposium. Attendees who are presenting or eating meals are required to register, either online or at the check-in area in the second-floor foyer of the SUB. Registration is $175, or $75 for students. Baylor faculty, staff and students are allowed to attend all conference activities, except for meals, free of charge.
“Such participation is indicative that this year’s theme has resonated strongly with students, scholars and administrators at both Christian and secular colleges and universities who recognize the significance of reflecting again on the aims of higher education,” Whitt said.
Most presentations during the symposium will be held in the Bill Daniel Student Center. Some meals and presentations will be held in the Cashion Academic Center. A schedule for the entire conference can be found at www.baylor.edu/ifl/bsfc2011.