I have spent the last few years pondering the purpose for Higher Education, specifically the reason for the University. I have considered this reason and can find no better definition than by citing Colombia Professor Andrew Delbanco’s purpose for the university; a place where students are shown how to think and how to choose.
I believe the setting for the American university must be a place where challenging discussions are encouraged, where critical ideas presented and new experiences relating to knowledge are passed onto students. An important component to encourage this kind of environment should be academic freedom — the freedom for discussion, the freedom in teaching and also in research, all in the pursuit of truth.
We must encourage our young students to engage in critical discussion, self-exploration and other measures in order for them to independently learn how to think and how to choose. What better place for this discussion to take place than at the University.
I have come to believe that all pursuits for truth will ultimately lead to one final destination, the understanding that all wisdom is inherently derived from the one true God, who by the grace of Jesus Christ, can we fully have a relationship and understand our purpose in life. I strongly believe that the encouragement for academic freedom also encourages faith in God, rather than refute His existence. Therefore, I consider academic freedom, guided with a belief in the one true, living God and of Jesus Christ, to be of critical importance to that of the university.
I believe that higher education will loose a powerful transformative component if it is not linked to that of Christian perspective. Furthermore, students who are discouraged away from the ideas of faith and the search for purpose, which can only be found through Christ, are lacking a massive piece of their education.
I am reminded of the quote, “Wisdom in knowledge, rightly applied”. You may attain a tremendous amount of knowledge at the University, but what sense does that knowledge have if it is not rightly applied through an understanding that all knowledge ultimately comes from and is used in service of God.
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