Higher Education in America

John ArmstrongCulture

The current issue of The Weekly Standard (October 3, 2005) has a marvelous article by James Piereson entitled "The Left University" (www.weeklystandard.com). It is must reading for serious Christian thinkers who care about the future of higher education in this country. It also explains the history of our universities by surveying the periods of greatest change, concluding that the period between 1965 and 1975 was plainly our most radical period of change. It was during this period that our universities moved from being liberal research institutions to ideological proponents of the social and political left. It was also during this time that "diversity" ideology became the mantra for most of our major schools.

Piereson believes that this is finally changing. Why? He offers several reasons within both modern history and culture. He concludes that "to a great degree, university faculties outside the sciences have lost the capacity either to understand or to influence the outside world." This is forcing university boards and leaders to rethink the role of such radical ideology on the campus, especially within their faculties.

What brought about this change? Two decades ago, when then University of Chicago professor Allan Bloom wrote his best-selling book, The Closing of the American Mind, there were few articulate voices that questioned the reigning assumptions of the radical left. Piereson rightly notes that "Today, by contrast, there are numerous initiatives on and off the campus that not only diagnose the problem but also point to practical remedies. Indeed, there are now dozens of organizations promoting intellectual rigor and pluralism on the campus."

Piereson believes that both conservatives and liberals should applaud these new developments on campus. Serious and thoughtful Christians should rejoice and then re-engage the campuses of our major institutions of higher learning. Thank God some never left but now is surely not the time to run away. This new openness allows a unique moment for both Christ and culture. I pray we will not miss it.