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Knowing your mission in a multireligious society

In December, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released results from a new poll that finds "large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions." You have probably heard the figures already: A third of all Americans worship in more than one place. A quarter of all Americans sometimes worship beyond their own tradition. These numbers increase among those who attend worship at least once a week.  See the poll results here. The Pew Forum reported in 2008 that the number of Americans who do not claim any religious affiliation rose above 15 percent. Combined with membership declines in many churches, some observers detect the dawn of an irreligious, unbelieving America.  But as the recent report shows, this is not the case. America is not less religious but rather religious in different ways than before. North Americans are certainly more multireligious than previous generations. While this raises countless questions ...

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Lay people like theology, too

The Shack

The challenges that theological schools face are real. But three articles that appeared in my inbox recently have reminded me of something important. People are interested in theology!

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Edupunks rock!

The other day, my colleague Rebekah Burch Basinger taught me a new word: edupunk. Ever since, I've been wondering if (and how) edupunks will transform theological education. By far the best exploration of this movement comes from a recent feature story in Fast Company magazine. Called "How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education," the article explains how some technologically astute people are taking a do-it-yourself attitude toward higher education, relying on free content provided by universities to craft their own educational programs. The "punk" part of edupunk is a reference to punk rock music -- and especially its rebellion against convention. Punk rejects the norms of conventional musical training -- that if you practice, practice, practice, you'll eventually get to Carnegie Hall. Punks aren't interested in Carnegie Hall, and they don't care if you (or I) approve of their music. Similarly, edupunks don't care about your (or my) fancy degrees. They are, however, intereste ...

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Back from the brink of disaster

Blackboard in the student prayer room at Oral Roberts University

The Autumn 2009 issue of In Trust magazine includes two articles about schools coming back from the brink of disaster.

"At Oral Roberts University, Making the Most of a Crisis"

In 2007, President Richard Roberts, son of the university's founder, stepped down while defending himself and Oral Roberts University from a wrongful termination law suit. Soon it was revealed that the school was $55 million in debt. But at the moment of crisis, a philanthropist stepped in, demanding significant changes in governance in return for a generous gift.

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Libraries of the future

  In years like these when cash flow is tight, endowments are down, and enrollments are sagging, schools of all sorts look for ways to slice a few lines from the operating budget.  But when boards and administrators are investigating creative solutions, how often do they turn to the library, tried and true, as a possible source of innovative savings?  If knowledge is the lifeblood of the academy, then books are the veins through which knowledge flows.  Right? Colleges and universities are increasingly turning to innovative solutions and the fast-paced development of new information technologies to trim overhead, maintenance, and staff budgets, while at the same time improving services for a changing student demographic. It's becoming more common to outsource certain functions (e.g. cataloging). Because of aggressive archiving and digitizing, the prominence of actual paper books is decreasing in favor of new ways of delivering knowledge. Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for academ ...

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