01: Faculty at religious colleges are sharply divided between those pressing for the integration of faith and learning and “separatists” who are against bringing faith perspectives into the classroom and the curriculum, according to a new study.
The study, in the March issue of Sociology of Religion, is based on a survey of 1,902 faculty respondents at Baylor University, Boston College, Brigham Young University, Georgetown College, the University of Notre Dame, and Samford University The integration of faith and learning has become a key concern at many religiously sponsored colleges and universities, as administrators have sought to revive a religious identity and stem secularization in such institutions.
It was found that 48.5 percent of the faculty supported the systematic inclusion of faith in all types of curriculum (religion, the life and natural sciences, sociology, and psychology) while 36 percent rejected all of the possible types of integration. Only 285 faculty chose positions between these two extremes.
The researchers, headed by Larry Lyon of Baylor University, had assumed that the faculty would take positions between the two end points and that responses would “skew away from the integrationist end of the curriculum. We were wrong.” Those taking an integrationist position are more likely to be in liberal arts colleges and be males, full professors, and share a denominational affiliation with their current institution. The separatist camp is more likely to be at research universities associated with the Catholic or Baptist denominations, and consist of females, part-time faculty and those from outside the institutions’ denominational affiliation.
The researchers add that their most controversial finding concerns the importance of the match between denominational affiliation of the faculty and that of their institution. For example, a male, full-time professor at Boston College who is Catholic has a one-in-three chance of being in the separatist camp. However, a male, full professor at Boston College who is not a Catholic has a slightly more than one-in-two probability of being in the separatist camp. “There may be many sound reasons to hire faculty outside of the denominational ties of the school…but engendering support for a core curriculum that integrates faith and learning is not likely to be among them,” the researchers conclude
02: While madrasas, Pakistan’s Islamic schools, are often viewed by Westerners as incubators of terrorism, teaching extremist Islam to more than 1.5 million students, recent studies suggest they do not have a very far reach in the country.
A recent World Bank report suggests that the above number is highly exaggerated. Using four Pakistani government national surveys and one funded by the World Bank, researchers found that only about 0.7 percent of all school-enrolled children between the age of five and 19 matriculate in madrasas, and that the total number of such students is not much higher than 200,000.
Foreign Policy magazine (May/June) reports that it may be the Pakistani public schools that are the most influential in teaching extremism. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute, a Pakistani nongovernmental organization, found that the public school curriculum for many secular subjects, such as Urdu and social studies, is suffused with extremist Islamic teachings. President General Pervez Mausharaf’s public promise to require every religious school to adopt the public school curriculum may only make matters worse.
(Foreign Policy, 1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036)